Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thirty Bench Winemakers 2005 Small Lot Chardonnay - $30.00

Oh Thirty Bench, what a difference ownership makes – I know I keep saying it but it’s true; from a winery I barely even walked into, to a winery making some really interesting and unique wines, not that Chardonnay is particularly unique, but still… Speaking as a Chardonnay-aphobe, I would have to say opening this bottle filled me with questions I dread the answers to: would it be too oaky? Too buttery? Too something? As many Chardonnays have become. My fears were for not because this 14 month French oaked Chard is terrific; the oaking is done lightly with a deft touch. The nose has a hint of butteryness but mostly its apples, pears and some delicate melon aromas. The palate shows the same kind of finesse with tropical fruits such as papaya and pineapple core, cantaloup also shows up and a tasty vanilla finish lingers pleasantly in the mouth. There’s some good acidity in here that makes for a crisp, zingy and lip-smackingly good finish.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tawse 2006 Echos Bistro White - $22.00

The Cabernet Franc Challenge is over, but the memories and tastes still linger. At the start of each night I poured a white wine from a non-participating winery; a kind of “rinse-bouche” if you will. On the night of December 11th I pulled the cork on a very special treat from Tawse, their 2006 Echos White … This wine runs along the same path as their Echos Red (read reviews 2005 and 2006), so named because the wines echo the making of their premium wines but somewhere along the way they get de-classified or down-graded; me, I’ll take these remnants any day. This wine’s nose is what first reels you in - it has a kind of sniff-all-dayedness to it … lots of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch. On the palate the vanilla continues, but the best part is yet to come. The vanilla is replaced mid-palate by caramel covered green apple and carries right through to the end … smooth and creamy with enough balancing acidity and touch of tartness – and then there’s that extremely long finish – this is a beauty for sure. I may not be a fan of their pricing structure, but this one’s good value at $22.00, it’s memorable, and that’s what good wine should be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stratus 2006 Red Icewine - $39.00

Whoa Nelly … here’s a real sweetie that’s just to-die-for, as long as you like your fruits red and sweet. This stunning version of red icewine blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah together and keeps your palate on its proverbial toes; there are plenty of surprises on this path to icewine Nirvana; and here’s why: The nose is very simple, honeyed-strawberries with a hint of apricot, but then you get it into your mouth and there’s an absolute explosion of flavours. Initially, you’ll get candy, in the form of a cherry drop, then raspberry and strawberry show up. You’ll assume that’s it, then you’ll take another sip. The flavours ramp-up to another level as candy apple races through the mouth and you smack your lips, delicious. Now that your mouth is coated with this lavish nectar, another sip kicks it up another notch delivering cinnamon-caramel-apple with a touch of something spicy. Finally, you’re nearing the end of your small glassful and you think, there’s nothing left to get out of this wine right? Wrong. The wine unleashes a red plum/cranberry-like tartness felt mainly in the roof of the mouth. Wow … there’s just so much going on here. Best of all, this sweetie foregoes the usual thick and syrupy; instead imagine smooth sweet red candied enjoyment, plus a whole lot more. What are you waiting for … stop reading … go get some.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Peller Estates Winery 2006 Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc … $18.95

Sauvignon Blancs has been totally taken over by New Zealand, to such an extent that when you mention Sauvignon Blanc the first thing that they think about is New Zealand. Winemakers are aware of this fact and that’s why they are now trying to copy the Kiwis in style. I was poured this one at the Peller tasting bar and was told quite plainly by the staff member, “just like in New Zealand we held back 5% of the wine to age in barrel.” This wine had the racy citrus tones to it, lots of grapefruit and gooseberry, a little hay and some melon to tickle the nose. In the mouth, its dry with the grapefruit popping out all over the palate and leaving a lengthy finish behind, very refreshing, quite bracing, so very New Zealand – and right here in Ontario.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Palatine Hills Estate Winery 2002 Meritage - $15.00 vs. 2002 Proprietors Reserve Meritage - $23.00

This is the story about two wines, born eight months apart to the same winery. It's easier to compare and contrast these two wines then give separate reviews because they are similar in preparation and makeup but different in taste. Both wines are made from equal parts cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. The younger meritage spent 18 months in oak, while his brother, the proprietors reserve, spent 26 months in oak and was made from specially selected grapes (read: those ones singled out for special treatment). The eighteen month-old has some oak characteristics with pepper and black fruit, but it retains more of its fruit forwardness. The 26 month-old is more peppery with darker fruits, like cassis and blackberries, with a touch more oak, noticeable spiciness and some drying power on the tongue. Both these wines come from the big ’02 vintage -and we know all about that one, don't we? So it's up to you, fruity ($15.00) or peppery ($23.00) ... It’s your choice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Huff Estates 2006 Wismer Vineyard Riesling Reserve - $19.95

The folks at Huff debated whether or not to put the word ‘reserve’ on the label (obviously they are not only smart, but readers of mine), they debated and discussed and finally decided that yes this wine deserved the ‘reserve’ moniker, because: it was pristine fruit from a single vineyard and it was release later than their off-dry version. This dry-Riesling has a very sweet nose, loaded with all the peaches and apples you could want and expect. But the taste goes against the nose with tart green apple and a dry citrus finish. The fruit might come from Niagara, but the heart, soul and taste of this wine is born and bred in the county. Another good wine from Huff (the magic winery).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Angels Gate 2005 Gamay Noir - $13.95

Welcome to “To chill or not to chill”: the game where you take two bottles of the same wine and serve one chilled and the other at room temperature then compare the aromas and flavours. In this case it’s a Gamay Noir (known in other parts as ‘the Beaujolais grape’) and the chill is about 2 hours. First off, it’s good to know that this Gamay has been aged in French oak for about 2 years, which should give it a little heft and structure. The unchilled version has black raspberry, black cherry, strawberry and cinnamon on the nose with a taste of cedar, blackberries, cassis, a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon with a tart strawberry finish. Chilled, the nose turns all red fruit with lots of cherry; the taste changes to black cherry, tart plum, hint of spice with a sweet smooth finish. You’ll notice that the fruitiness factor on the chilled version is multiplied greatly. So pick your poison: black fruit (room temp) or red fruit (chilled) it’s your choice, but both ways make for a excellent wine.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hillebrand Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc Icewine - $78

There seems to be a trend afoot to scale back on the sweetness of icewine. There was a time when 22 was the norm, then it skyrocketed up to a cloyingly sweet 28 … now it’s not uncommon to see icewine in the 19-20 range, which is a perfect amount of sweetness but still well-balanced with its acidity to make them pair well with, or have as, a dessert. This Cab Franc’s nose leaves little doubt as to what you are smelling: full-on strawberries. As icewine is apt to do the taste follows sweet with strawberry jam like flavours – you’d swear you could spread this on toast. As for the sugar code, this one’s only nineteen (old enough to drink itself here in Ontario). Someone remarked, “it tastes too sweet to drink on its own.” So try it with dark chocolate or some blue veined cheese … or better yet, pour it over fresh strawberries or cherries – but don’t forget to drink the resulting concoction left at the bottom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery 2006 Family of Rieslings - $15 - $20

There’s yet another new winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Cattail Creek. They have been growing grapes since sometimes in the 50’s and Riesling growers since ’76. They have a variety of clones on the property along with old and young vines. According to Roselyn, co-owner with her husband Andrew, the young vines add the acidity while the older vines add the finesse. Riesling is big in Niagara and is considered by many to be one of the regions best grape varieties. Which probably explains the reason that Cattail Winery makes 3 unique styles.

The Dry is a zero, made up from 81% of those young Riesling vines … peach and lime make up the nose, with tastes of peach, tart apple and a touch of petrol. This wine has lots of zip and zing, it’s dry and crisp in the mouth with a lengthy white peach and Granny Smith finish – those youngsters certainly did their job.

The Off-Dry is 100% young vines, but along with that acidity they left a little sweetness behind. Pure apple and peach hit the nose while the mouth gets tropical with cantaloupe melon, pineapple, some papaya, sweet peach and a touch of apple nuance … very tasty – but not the 3 it claims to be, as the biting young acidity cuts through the sweetness making it taste like a one. Best part of this wine is as you sip on it the flavours become more prominent in the mouth.

Finally, the Reserve is comprised of three clones made mainly from the old vines and the Alsatian. Floral, peach and lemon aromas are followed by minerals, limestone, slate and wetstone … the fruit is orange blossom with a surprising spicy peppery like finish. It flows smoothly through the mouth then hits the throat with a crisp, spicy, citrus end. You can just feel the petrol notes getting ready to develop here … lie this one down to enjoy in a few years … better yet, lie them all down and see what happens.

If Cattail Creek keeps making wines like these they’ll definitely be a winery to watch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tawse Winery 2006 Echos Red - $25

It wasn’t too long ago that I reviewed the Tawse Echos Red 2005, it was their first foray into the world of under $29 red and I was mighty impressed – both in the wine and the price point (if you know about Tawse you’ll know $25 does not appear on their price list often). Tawse released the ’05 as a restaurant exclusive but its popularity has grown and between the LCBO (buying for Vintages) and restaurants it sold out fairly quickly, thus prompting Tawse to bring out the ’06; and this time at the retail level … woohoo. A blend of Merlot (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), and Cabernet Franc (20%) this wine is even better than last year’s (surprising because of the rather wet conditions at harvest time). Vanilla, cinnamon, cherries, strawberries, rich ripe red fruit, good smooth tannins and ageability to spare, between 6-10 years. Tastes great now … even better later. The ’05 is now sold out – though it will be available in limited supply in the fall through Vintages … but get to the winery and try its big brother – this one rocks. And I know you’re all very proud of me for going a whole review without mentioning their high-priced tasting fees. I'm proud of me too - and proud of Tawse for coming out with this wine at this price.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2005 Red - $ 22.00

Back when Andrew Peller took over Thirty Bench it was a winery that had fallen on hard winemaking times, a winery you would walk through and walk out of with little in the way of a draw; the wines had simply become generic and non-descript. Flash forward a couple of years and the change is amazing; the outside has remained the same, but the inside has become warm and inviting drawing you in deeper and deeper (if only to get a look at the amazing view out the back windows) but the wines have developed into something special too. ‘Red’ is 30 Bench’s new Meritage blend with 65% Cab Sauv, 15% Cab Franc and 10% Merlot, aged 12 months in French oak; the grapes drawn from the hot ripe 2005 vintage. Black cherry, cassis and cedar are the most prominent smells right now – with more on the way, if you’re willing to put some bottle age on it. The flavours follow from the promise of the nose, with a touch of vanilla, cherry and cinnamon on the finish. Drinking now? Then I would recommend decanting, pre-opening or a really big glass. Holding? 3-5 years easy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pillitteri 2006 Fusion: Gewurztraminer/Riesling - $12

This wine elicited some bawdy talk at the tasting bar. First, a conversation with the two young ladies behind the bar brought out the fact that one of them refers to Gewurztraminer as “the G-wine”. There’s more to this story but first … the nose on this wine is loaded with peach, pear and apple – the taste would seem to be sweet, but at only one-and-a-half on the sugar code the nose can be a bit deceptive ... dry peach, pear and citrus by way of lemon drop in the mouth – there’s also a nice soft peach finish that kicks around for awhile. Now back to the G-wine story … I said, “This G-wine” really hits the spot and the bottles a nice shape too.” There were plenty of giggles, laughs and unmentionable talk that ensued. Enjoy this wine anyway you like, because it is quite tasty – what you talk about while drinking it is up to you; G-rating not included.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mastronardi Estate Winery NV a’Dorah - $15.00

This is the first ever sparkling wine produced at Mastronardi, and dang, it’s really good, both in taste and price. Made from Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes this bubbly blend has toasty apple, floral, lychee and honey aromas and flavours. This wine should age very well, but why wait … or better yet, buy 2, at that price you can afford to treat yourself. Reasonable in price, delicious is taste – what’s not to like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jackson-Triggs 2006 Proprietors’ Reserve Sauvignon Blanc - $13.95

I bought this bottle during the intermission of the Philosopher Kings concert at Jackson-Triggs because it was the wine I had sipped on throughout the show. A week later I opened it with some trepidation – worried that I might have had “good-time-wine syndrome” when I bought it: you know the feeling, you have a good time drinking a wine due to your surroundings or the company you were with and the next time you try it you wonder, “did I really like this wine?” – the wine just doesn’t taste the same, in fact it tastes like … well, I’m sure you have your own term. Fortunately, that was not the case, it still had the lemon, grapefruit, nectarine, mineral and hint of cat’s pee on the nose that I had grown to love sitting in my chair at the amphitheatre. A tart lemon start, grapefruit tang n the middle and lime zip at the end in the mouth. Refreshing on yet another summer afternoon … and just for good measure I had the Philosopher Kings playing on the stereo.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Colio Estate Wines 2006 Late Harvest Vidal - $11.95

“Late Harvest”, what is it? It can be one of two things: 1) the second pressing of icewine grapes or 2) grapes harvested later than usual harvest time – here in Ontario that’s after September and October. Colio waited, and waited and waited and finally in late January 2007 they said enough … temps never got to icewine making range (-8 to –10) but these grapes did see some frost, some freezing and even picked up a little botrytis along the way before being plucked from the vine. The nose is very icewine-esque: apples, pears, peaches, apricots, honey and some lilac; while those yummy flavours from the nose follow through on the palate but with much less sweetness than you’d expect from something that smells this sweet; ranking only about a 6 on the sugar code, compared to an icewine’s 20+. The finish is appley with hints of cinnamon, vanilla and/or butterscotch depending on which way your palate leans.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Smith and Wilson 2005 Double Barrel - $14.00

Last year’s version (2004) turned into my spring “pizza wine” – a quaffer with no pretense and went well with my Domino’s pepperoni-extra sauce. This time round Smith and Wilson have added some extra umph to this wine because my pizza would now need more meat to match up with the wines heft. A blend of 75% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot (done in stainless steel) with the addition of 15% Cabernet Sauvignon oaked for 10 months in Hungarian and American oak. The nose is blackberry, black cherry, currants, nutmeg, pepper, some spice and a touch of oak; followed by a palate of cedar, vanilla, cinnamon and oak for seasoning, black fruit and tart strawberry for fruit. Looks like I’ll be adding some ground beef, sausage and bacon onto that pizza next time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Creekside Estates Winery 2006 Butler’s Grant Vineyard Riesling - $15.95

Last year (2005) was Creekside’s first effort making a “Butler’s Grant” single vineyard Riesling, and by the label you can see it was from the Butler’s Grant Vineyard. Like with most things this winemaking team of Craig MacDonald and Rob Powers touches of late, they turned yet another wine into liquid gold. Lighting has struck again in 2006 with this version. Good crisp acidity is the backbone, surrounded by peachy-minerality and some sweet honeydew flavours. Another great Riesling that’ll stand the test of time, and a few years in the cellar; though it drinks wonderfully well right now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chateau des Charmes 2005 St. David’s Bench Cabernet Franc - $25.00

It’s not like I’ve hidden it over the years, Cabernet Franc is truly one of my favorite grapes and I think we Ontarians make it better than anyone. So when I saw this Chateau des Charmes St. David's Franc on the shelves at the winery, I knew I just had to try it. I can tell you right now that it's not ready to drink, unless you like chewing your wine, but if you decant this wine it will drink wonderfully right now, or you can bottle age it for another five years and drink up to ten years hence, maybe longer. But why wait, let's try it now. The nose speaks to the weight of the wine with black fruit, pepper and piles of oak. In the mouth, you'll find some black fruit interwoven with dry tannin, heavy oak and a dusty, drying, sawdusty finish. Decant or lie down, but don’t try to tackle this one on its own quite yet. This was released at the same time as the ‘05 St. David's Cabernet Sauvignon (see review) and comparatively this one is definitely the heavier and meatier wine of the two.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inniskillin 2004 Brae Burn Vineyard Shiraz - $24.95

It has been said that Shiraz will not grow properly in Ontario – too cool a climate for this sun loving, heat seeking grape … well don’t tell that to Shiraz, which is doing quite well in Ontari-ari-ari-o thank you very much. I have tried quite a few of the ’04 Shirazes and I would have to say I’m rightfully impressed by a number of them. This one from Inniskillin drinks well now but shows even greater promise for the future. The nose is a bit closed off right now, but still hints at dark fruit and lots of pepper. The palate is a little more inviting with dark fruit, black pepper and a typical Shiraz spiciness. Atypical for this variety is the wonderful crème brulé finish … yup, crème brulé. Has the hot grape found a cool climate home? Only time will tell. Drink now or give this one a few years to come fully into its own … then pop the cork and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Calamus Estate Winery 2006 Unoaked Chardonnay - $14.00

So I brought this wine to my mother who is always looking for a decent white to drink although she is a red fan at heart. I said, “Mom, you have to try this.”
“What is it?” She asked me.
“Just try it,” I said, and she did.
“Oh this is lovely,” she exclaimed after her first sip, she took another and another. “What are those flavours? Are you getting apple?”
“Maybe a little,” I said, “but this one has good tropical fruit too, like pineapple, kiwi and mango – lots of mango actually … oh, and there’s a touch of vanilla in there too.”
“I’m getting the vanilla,” she said, “and something else …”
“I find there’s some smooth buttery like softness,” I said pouring her another glass. “And the mangoes really come through on the palate. There’s also a touch of sweetness, it’s, I believe, a one on the sugar code … but it’s bright smooth, has good acid balance, not too tart and finishes well.”
“What is it we’re drinking?” She asked as I poured her a third glass.
“It’s the new Unoaked Chardonnay from Calamus.”
“I usually don’t like Chardonnay, but this really is quite good, and Calamus is making some really nice wines, I’m impressed … thank you dear.”
“You’re welcome mom – sleep well.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Willow Heights Estate Winery 2005 Unoaked Chardonnay - $11.95

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Willow Heights wine I really enjoyed. It seems the Heights had fallen on hard winemaking times, and every bottle on the shelves was lacking that all-important VQA symbol. But now it’s out of the doldrums and into the light. There’s a silver lining that has emerged and some momentum being generated: first, a silver medal for this unoaked Chardonnay at the 2007 Ontario Wine Awards. We also have a new award-winning winemaking team that has taken over the reigns (Rob Power and Craig MacDonald – from Creekside). What all this good news means is that we are going to hear a lot more from the Heights in the coming months. But first let’s get into this wine a little deeper … it has tropical fruit nuances, soft pineapple, citrus tastes and some butteryness from the lees contact. After all that wine-babble let’s just say it’s mighty good and well priced. You can get pick up this wine at both the winery and at the LCBO.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Norman Hardie Winery 2006 County Chardonnay - $29.00

Norman Hardy looks like a laid back kind of fellow, he has one of those accents that's a mish-mash of everywhere he's been and nowhere in particular; but get this wondering winemaker between a few of his barrels of wine and suddenly you know his origin is somewhere between the vineyard and the cellar. In the cellar he seems to atke on the roll of the nutty professor, going from barrel to barrel sampling, tasting and measuring; and the blends he comes up with are nothing short of wonderful. Before me sits a glass of his 2006 County Chardonnay (set for release in July 2007); only 800 liters will be available and it's gonna go quick – Norm’s wines are always in high demand. Aged in both new and second use French oak, this wine has tropical fruit on the nose with vanilla bean and butter. The palate is right at the heart of what Norm is aiming for and here he again hits the mark, “I’ll sacrifice aromatics for better structure and taste”, he once told me, and while the nose might leave a little something to be desired, the taste does not . Melon, vanilla, tropical fruit, nutmeg, baking spice and a mid-palate that has amongst other things has a thin coating of butter. The acidity in this wine is just right, and really gets the mouth watering. Then there’s the length, which will keep you coming back for more. Another notch on Norm’s belt of tasty, quality wines.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scotch Block Country Winery Sweet Scarlet - $14.95

Some fruit wineries call their sweet wines “ice-wine-style” wines, others call them “dessert wines” or even “fortified/port-style” wines; but what ever they call these sweet beauties they do make dessert-time fun. I’ve also noticed of late that many fruit wineries are trying to find that magic-matching of fruits; and although some seem a little out there, others truly hit the mark. Scotch Block, located in Milton, has come up with something truly unique and wonderfully tasty. Sweet Scarlet is a cranberry-strawberry fusion in the sweet wine category. There’s no mistaking the smells and tastes, but it’s interesting to see how they combine. If you just let this wine sit in the glass the unmistakable smell of strawberry hits the nose; swirl the glass around and cranberry becomes the dominant smell. In the mouth it’s a similar sensation, with sweet strawberry in the mouth, finishing with the tartness of cranberry, and I could swear there’s some cinnamon that sneaks its way into the mid-palate. It is because of the cranberry finish that this wine does not come off as being overly sweet. Ice cold is the best way to serve this wonderful dessert wine … great on its own or, believe it or not, with a stick of red licorice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lakeview Cellars Estate Winery 2005 Starboard - $22.95

I have good news and bad news about this wine … the bad news is that it’s up in price, but what do you expect, it’s from the 2005 short-crop vintage. Short crop means less wine, which translate into more money for high-risk wines where the possibility of something going wrong is greater. The good news, nothing did, and Lakeview has made one fantastic port-knock-off. I’ll let you figure out the Starboard / Port reference on your own and instead give you the highlights of this beauty. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, fortified to 19% alcohol and topping out at a mere 7 on the sugar scale. This wine exhibits classic port-like characteristics: sweet black cherries and milk chocolate on the nose followed by full on dark chocolate covered cherries and sweet damson plum in the mouth, and a long sweet finish. Not as thick as port, nor as complex, but let’s give it some time and see how it develops – right now it’s quite delicious, I’d like to see what it’s like in 10 years or so.

Additional note: After 4 weeks of being open and taking a nip ever so often, the wine still retained great flavours and smoothness. Keep capped and at room temperature – and serve with dark chocolate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Three in One - Mountain Road Chardonnays

Word has finally made it onto the streets: the Grape Guy is not a chardonnay fan, and every Tom, Dick and Winemaker is out to change that way of thinking. The most recent is Mountain Road Wine Company, who recently released a slew of chardonnays – two of which were award winners: one at the Ontario Wine Awards (OWA) and the other a double-gold recipient at the All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC). We’ll start with the non-winner of the grouping, the 2004 Unoaked Chardonnay ($15.15); which I believe, by all rights, should have been an award winner. Many wineries are getting away from too much oak in their Chards, while others are giving wine drinkers the option of staved or non-staved (wooded). This unoaked version is wonderfully fruity on the nose with tropical fruit layers: mangoes and pineapple, on a bed at leafy green lettuce, probably from some extended lees contact. The front-palate follows the nose, while the back is peach pit and leafy. There's plenty of alcohol in this one (14%) and the finish is delicious under-ripe peach. Moving along down the line of new Chardonnays is the 2003 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($16.15). This one has the same alcohol heat as it's unwooded counterpart, but there's plenty of barrel influenced tastes and smells here; the colour also shows it's a barrel origins with a more golden hue. The nose shows butterscotch, vanilla, and nutmeg with a subtle hint of some grassy-leafiness. In the mouth the wine explodes with a multitude of flavors including: vanilla, toasty spices, some leesy-butteryness, and celery salt; some long oakyness finishes this one off in your mouth (this barrel fermented won the gold at the OWA’s). Finally, we have your double gold medal winner; and with all this hardware they should anoint Steve Kocsis (owner and winemaker) the new King of the Chards, if there was such a crown to be given. The 2003 Barrel Fermented Reserve Chardonnay ($26.15) has got some hot, hot heat in the alcohol department (14.7%), making this one good for drinking or cleaning wounds. The nose is pure butter and vanilla, while the palate shows buttery, oak and cinnamon flavors. This one needs time to settle down and develop further, but its mouth coating flavors and pleasant lengthy finish bodes well for its future.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fielding Estate Winery 2006 Sparkling Riesling - $28.00

Fielding has been making a name for themselves with their Rieslings, so it only stands to reason that if they were going to make a sparkling wine that Riesling would be the grape they’d choose to make it with. This is winemaker Ray Cornell’s second go around with sparkling wine and it is decidedly a very good effort. This wine is made using the tank method so the bubbles aren’t as long lived as they would be in the traditional method; they start off big and bubbly and calm to a delicate upward trickle. When the cork is first popped you’ll find a fresh, vibrant and extremely moussy wine … but as many hairdressers know, mousse doesn’t last forever and the same can be said here. Once dissipated you’re left with a fizzy refresher that manages to hold on to its bubbles over the long haul; then again a bubbly this good does not remain in your glass for long. Once the foaminess dissipates and the fear of getting bubbles up your nose is gone, take a sniff: fresh apples and peaches with a pleasant toasty under-currant. The peaches and apples follow through in the mouth along with some pineapple and lemon freshness. Good acidity and great taste makes this a worthy addition to the Fielding stable of Rieslings, and one of Niagara’s best sparklers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Strewn 2006 Cabernet Rosé - $11.95

On this hot day everyone thinks rosé; but when most people think pink it’s either Fiberglass or White Zinfandel … one will cut your tongue, the other will sweeten it … what I’m trying to say is that Pink Wine means sweet, right? Wrong … many of the world’s best rosés are on the dryer side and with some good chillin’ make wonderful aperitifs, patio wines and fish partners. Joe Wills, winemaker for Strewn, has crafted this delicious little number that has all the nuances in the nose of sweet rosé: raspberry and strawberry; but ends with some tart-dryness and tastes like peppered raspberries. Chill it up and drink it down - it’s gonna be a hot one, and you’re gonna need some summertime coolin’ … bon appetite.

Listen to the Podcast of this review - www.ontariowinereview.libsyn.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lakeview Cellars Estate Winery 2005 Merlot - $13.95

Tom Green and his team at Lakeview have done a wonderful job on this 2005 Merlot, and at that price it’s a steal. The ’05 vintage is starting to show signs of its excellence (even though it was a short one) … the wines have high alcohol, great fruit and some real potential for longevity; this merlot follows that model. The nose is dense with dark fruit, licorice, blueberry, plum, cassis, coffee, black raspberry and some burnt toffee aromas. The taste also doesn’t let up with red peppers, blackberries, black cherry, cedar, cassis, chocolate and spice wrapped up in a light tannin coat with a sweet fruit finish. This is one wine is what I call a twofer purchase: one for now, one for later.

Listen to the Podcast of this review - www.ontariowinereview.libsyn.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lailey Vineyard 2005 Zweigelt - $11.95

According to Derek Barnett, winemaker for Lailey, he has received plenty of good feedback about this year’s Zweigelt, including “best Zweigelt in Ontario.” While that seems like high praise I am not sure he can take that one to his bank manager and negotiate that next loan. Considering there are maybe 9 or 10 wineries in Ontario that are making a straight Zweigelt … it really is more like faint praise. This wine deserves better so how about I try to one up that and make it a little easier for him to hold his head up the next time he walks into the bank. At a recent Austrian wine show (home of Zweigelt) I tried many of these “Z” wines and kept coming back to Derek’s version, using it as my point of reference. The wine spent 10 months in 3 to 4 year old barrels and another 6 months ageing in bottle; the result is a wine that’s cherry red in colour, has red fruit, white pepper and spice on the nose; sour cherry and cranberry with a touch of oak on the palate. This is a true summer BBQ wine if I’ve ever had one, and for 11.95 it truly is a bargain. As for where this Zweigelt stands with the others I tasted, Derek, your wine is truly world class … now that you can take to the bank.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ridgepoint Wines 2005 Unoaked Chardonnay - $15.25

In a recent conversation with a winery owner the topic turned to Chardonnay, primarily the oaked and unoaked versions of it. My discourse partner liked wood in Chardonnay, while I said that over-wooded Chardonnay, by the Aussies and Californians, have pretty much killed Chardonnay’s reputation and led to the rise of ABC-crowd (Anything But Chardonnay). Her opinion did not change, she felt that if you want unwooded you’re better off with a Riesling; can’t really argue with that logic. Well this afternoon a Riesling was not in the fridge so I reached for this unoaked number from Ridgepoint. Light and fruity it was just what I was looking for in the middle of the afternoon – lots of good stone and tree fruit while the fresh, pleasant taste in the mouth made this one an easy drinking tongue pleaser. The lovely subtle finish of Mac Apples didn’t hurt it either. I am sure the debate of the Chardonnays still rages on but I’ll gladly put this one in my corner. This wine also took home silver at the most recent All Canadian Wine Championships (2007).

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hillebrand Estates 2000 Showcase Cabernet Franc - $50

Digging into the cellar we find a bottle that might not be in the best of shape … Sommelier Dieter Unruh of Hillebrand asked for my thoughts on this and I was more than happy to give them. This J.L. Groux made bottle of wine had it’s grapes sourced from the Glenlake Vineyard and was made in limited quantity. Many consider 2000 not a great vintage year in Ontario, that’s putting it mildly, in fact, experts give it a 6 out of ten on the ranking scale. But this is what happens when menial fruit is given to a master winemaker … you get greatness. As they say, anyone can make wine in a good year, it’s the bad years that separate the men from the boys (with apologies to our female winemakers out there – but the “hair on your chest” comment didn’t seem to work either). The nose shows no sign of fading with green pepper, white pepper, black cherry and blackberry. While in the mouth it’s smooth with a hint of tannin: black fruit dominate with cassis, black raspberry, blackberries and blueberries. This is a wine you can safely hold for another two years, or drink now, it’s up to you; either way it’s held up pretty nicely.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Coyote’s Run 2005 Cabernet Franc - $22.00

Being an animal lover I have always been fond of the Coyote’s Run logo that adorns their label: a coyote trotting along. For me it just seems to stand above all other animal-based labels like Yellow Tail (with the hopping kangaroo) and the Little Penguin (with their cool-dude penguin), because it never seemed gimmicky to me, it’s the winery’s name, so the animal being there is a happenstance … then again maybe I am just being fooled by clever marketing. Anyway let’s stop looking at what’s on the bottle and take a sip of what’s in the bottle. This 2005 Cabernet Franc is truly delicious – the snout has plenty of black fruit features like black cherry, blackberry and plums with hints of allspice and vanilla … in the maw it’s juicy with a little kick in the hindquarter. There are quite a lot of berries in here, most notably strawberries, with some great sweet vanilla, cherry and oak. The tannins are for the most part smooth, until the end where they give you that little something extra. This is a tasty little number that can rest in bottle for a couple more years to its, and your, benefit.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Calamus Estate Winery 2006 Sagitta (Gewurztraminer) - $13

I am of two minds about this wine, don’t get me wrong I think it’s lovely, drinkable, pleasant, but what’s with the name. Let’s start with what’s in the bottle. Gewurztraminer is a great aromatic white and the team at Calamus has captured the best parts of it. Floral notes, orange peel, mango and lychee … the palate has a touch of sweetness along with typical spicy Gewurzt characteristics, also there’s some pineapple, mango, white peach softness along with some citrus tang … good fruitiness all the way through. This is another winner for Calamus, they’re starting to hit their stride and find their wine-legs, so to speak, in just their second vintage. As for what’s on the bottle, I understand Sagitta to be a constellation shaped like an arrowhead, very fitting with the winery’s image, but why on a bottle of Gewurztraminer. Sure it’s a tough name to pronounce, but when you have a tasty wine like this, that’ll help put Gewurztraminer on the map in Ontario, why screw with the name? It’ll just confuses people more – now you’ll have to explain both names … I think Gewurztraminer would’ve worked just fine on it’s own. Great wine … lousy name.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Thirty Bench Winemakers 2005 Triangle Riesling - $32.00

Looking for one of the best Ontario Rieslings on the market, you’ve found it. Since their purchase by Andrew Peller Wines (formerly Andres) in May of 2005, 30 Bench has been re-inventing themselves as a small boutique, small lot, small batch winery. This Riesling is sourced from the 9-acre Triangle vineyard located north of the winery, next to the creek at the back of the property. The grapes are hand picked and sorted, and when all is said and done they use only about 2 acres worth of the best fruit for this bottling. The limestone soil gives this wine great minerality both on the nose and taste, and shows great complexity with nuances of peach, pineapple, hint of tangerine and other tropical aromas, that seem to constantly change the longer it remains opened. The peach follows through on the palate along with hints of sweet citrus and lychee fruit which courses through the mouth before ending with sweet clementine-like flavours on the finish. Balanced through and through: good acidity, great flavours, and just the right amount of sweetness. This just might be Ontario’s best Riesling and once you’ve tasted it you’ll know why it won’t be around long, either on the shelf or in your glass … thank God for the long finish.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Peninsula Ridge 2005 Syrah - $24.95

During a recent trip to Peninsula Ridge I discovered this beauty, a medium bodied Syrah from the hot but short cropped 2005 vintage. Made by 25 year veteran and well-traveled winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas, from France, amongst other places, and winner of the 2006 Ontario Wine Awards winemaker of the year – so you have to believe he not only knows what he is doing but knows a little something about Syrah … and he really shows it here. Aged in French oak for 5 months Jean-Pierre told me he created it in a drink now style and figured it would be on the decline within a year. But that is not the case, and as he said to me “sometimes the wine takes on a life of its own and can surprise you.” Now we’re looking at a wine that has a new-lease-on-life and 2 to 3 more years at that. On the nose you’ll find black pepper, black cherry and some oak … while in the mouth its smooth and lush with black cherry and plum fruit, pepper and a touch of oak for the backbone. Very few barrels were made and now very few bottles are left … get your hands on this one post-haste.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Calamus Estate Winery 2005 Calamus Red - $13.00 (till May 31st)

Here’s another great red from the now award winning Calamus Estate (they picked up two Golds at the recent Ontario Wine Awards); not as bold and powerful as their Meritage, but this is one packs enough stuffing to be considered a fabulous wine indeed. 62% Cabernet Franc and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon (all the Merlot when into the Meritage blend), this red has dark fruit written all over it: cassis, black raspberry, sour cherry along with some cinnamon and oak notes. The palate seems smooth at first with blackberry, black cherry and sweet oak; with vanilla and cherry rounding off the finish. After two hours of being open, chocolate joins the vanilla and cherry on the back nine (so to speak) making sure you go home happy – it’s there and it’s tasty. There’s also enough tannin and acidity to consider lying this one down in the cellar a few years. Good for pizza and pasta nights, as well as burgers and steak … this is truly a multi-purpose red that’s delicious and wonderfully cork-free so you can crack it anywhere. Act now because as of June 1st, 2007 this wine goes up to $15.00 … don’t miss out on this steal of a deal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fielding Estate Winery 2006 Fume Blanc - $24.00

It’s rare that I write a review with a specific person in mind; but this one seems justified, afterall birthdays come round but once a year, and so rarely do they fall on Weekly Wine Note day … you know who you are so this one’s for you. Fielding launched nine wines over the weekend of April 14, 2007: 6 whites, 2 reds and a rose. Among the wines on that list was their first ever Sauvignon Blanc; but instead of making just one for the inaugural vintage they decided to go all out and make two: a regular (stainless steel version) and a fume (aged minimally in barrel to give it some oak characteristics). While the regular Sauvignon Blanc is good, I think I like the Fume better. Aged in 4-year-old refurbished red wine barrels, that were stripped, “sanded” and re-assembled with no toasting inside (to avoid imparting too much smokiness into the wine). New winemaker (for Fielding) Ray Cornell, has done a wonderful job on this wine. The nose is nuanced with muted lime and grassiness; but where this wine really shines is in your mouth. Typical Sauvignon Blanc citrus and grassy flavours mix well with the spices and butteryness taken from the barrel, all rounded off with a nice lingering finish. Very nice job Ray, very nice indeed. And by the way, my Sauvignon Blanc loving friend, Happy Birthday. Available at the winery only.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coyote’s Run 2005 Pinot Noir - $30.00

You have to feel a little for Coyote’s Run – after the great success of their Red Paw and Black Paw Pinot Noirs you kinda expected them to follow it up in 2005. But Pinot Noir is a cool climate loving grape and the hot dry summer of 2005 did not reward Pinot … nor did the short crop help matters any. As is often the case in the old Warner Brothers cartoons, it’s back to the drawing board for the Coyote … but instead of crying over the failure of their ACME-Rocket-Launcher, they re-organized and tried something a little different. Combining the yield from both vineyards (from the red and black soils) they have fashioned a lively ripe Pinot Noir with great red fruit and earth on the nose – mainly strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb. The aging in French oak for 12 months gives us the taste of deep rich red fruit and the earthiness we’ve come to expect. Hoping for a return of Red and Black in ’06 but for now this ’05 will do quite nicely. Available at the winery only.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Strewn Winery 2004 Cabernets - $14.95

This 55/45 blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon has soft red fruit on the nose and currant, blueberry and plum on the palate. Soft tannins makes this an easy sipper for every day consumption and the $14.95 price tag reinforces that opinion and makes for an easy recommendation. Throw in the fact that its available at the LCBO on the general list and you have a good wine you can buy anytime you need a delicious gift for friends, something easy to take to a party, or just something to enjoy yourself tonight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

20 Bees 2005 Riesling - $12.95

Many 2005 Rieslings have already been released and you’ll soon be seeing the 2006’s hitting the shelves; on the other hand, some wineries are just sending their ‘05’s to market, that’s where 20 Bees comes into play. Ontario’s first co-op winery still doesn’t have an official building to call home, so the LCBO is the only place to buy their output – though rumour has it by spring or summer 2007 we should see the fruit of the workmen’s labours who have been toiling on highway 55. For now we only get the pressed-fruits of the winemakers and growers labours and their promise of unpretentious wines at unpretentious prices, which continues with this offering. There is nothing here that’ll blow your socks off – but nothing to offend either, this is a very straight-forward serve at all occasions Riesling; and the price is perfect for everyday consumption. Lots of sweet apple and peach on the nose; hints of petrol and mineral grab the fore-palate and while lime settles pleasantly in the mid-palate. Finally, the apple comes through in the medium long finish. Good price for a pleasant crowd-pleaser of a wine.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chateau des Charmes 2005 Gamay Noir (White Label) - $11.95

Sometimes simple is all you really need and Gamay doesn’t much simpler than this one. Of course, Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais, and it has come to mean light, fruity and easy drinking. Chateau des Charmes has created a wine that fits those three words to a tee – yet there is still hints of structure that gives it some lay-it-down-ability (but not too long mind you). Sweet red berries on the nose, reminiscent of cherries which follows right through on the palate with just a touch of oak and this wine is definitely chillable for added enjoyment. Spring has finally come and I would say this Gamay is a perfect way to celebrate it’s arrival - drink now, or wait a couple of years, it’s up to you … but do enjoy. Available at the LCBO and the winery.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Le Clos Jordanne 2004 Village Reserve Pinot Noir - $25.00

A lot has been said and written about Le Clos Jordanne and the wines coming out of it. In the latest Vintages magazine 6 pages were devoted to hailing its highly touted and anticipated wine release; 6 pages! For those of you who have managed to avoid the hype here are some highlights: Le Clos Jordanne is a winery located in Jordan, a joint venture between Vincor and Burgundy-based Boisset of France. Senior viniculturist (meaning he oversees all aspect of Le Clos), Thomas Bachelar, a Canuck who studied winemaking et al in France, has been toiling around in both France and Oregon for the past 10 years. In 2003 he was brought back home to head Le Clos Jordanne for Vincor – and for all intense and purposes to make prestigious wines in a garage until such time as the proposed grand winery opened. The likelihood that the original plan for the winery will happen is now up in the air and in the hands of Constellation Brands of New York; but the wines are definitely still in Thomas’ control and the once garage is now a big custom-fitted warehouse … a far cry from the Frank Gehry designed winery he was promised. As for the wine, it is quite impressive. Not many bottles remain on LCBO shelves but for those of you who got your hands on a bottle, or still can, here’s what to expect from this $25 offering: spice, oak, cedar, fig, wet leaf, plums and some earthiness on the nose, with spice and plum repeating on the palate along with strawberry, black pepper and vanilla. What’s even more appealing is the ending – Clos-ing out with hints of red licorice in a nice long finish. This is some great wine with more to come. Available at the LCBO.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Grange of Prince Edward County Trumpour’s Mill 2005 Cabernet/Merlot - $17.95

The wines from 2005 have so far been amazing: good concentration of fruit and lush tannins in the reds; great fruity flavours in the whites – especially the Rieslings. Last year, the Grange won me over with their 2004 version of this wine, and the 2005 is even better. The blend is still the same, 40% each of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon with the remaining 20% being held up by the Merlot. Initially, this wine seems a little closed off, showing only black fruit (black raspberries) and coffee on the nose – but after an hour the fruit begins to poke its way through with raspberries and strawberries emerging. The first hour shows similarly on the palate, dusty mouth-drying tannins along with some black fruit and oak. Give it that hour and feel it smooth out a little, developing some chocolate notes. This wine can definitely use some bottle age to mellow I would say 3-5 years should do nicely. Available at the winery.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rosehall Run 2004 Top Barriques Chardonnay- $18.95

Chardonnay has never been a friend of mine, or I of it, I’ve never hidden that fact from anyone (ask to see my ABC membership card – Anything But Chardonnay) … so when I find an interesting Chardonnay I’m the first to scream it from the rooftops. This one, from this Prince Edward County winery, is actually made from 24-year-old vines grown in Niagara; the “top barriques” part, well that just means best barrels. So this best barrels, old vines Chard has got some real character to it. Notes of asparagus, celery, lettuce, pea pods, almonds and over ripe tree fruit on the nose; with vegetal (especially the pea pods), almonds, peach pits and wet stone on the palate. A medium long finish helps it to linger pleasantly in the mouth and your enjoyment of it continues through each swallow. This one is not only an interesting wine, it’s quite tasty too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Angels Gate 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon - $18.95

Ontario wine from the 2003 vintage is pretty lackluster in general. It was the fault of the season, not the winemakers, they did the best they could do with a fair crop. I’m not saying it was/is a bad year, it just wasn’t a good year – and many of the 2003 were drink now kinda wines; as one winemaker said to me, “Drink the 2003’s now and while you wait on your ‘02s.” During the 2007 icewine festival Angels Gate bucked the icewine trend and poured a flight of their Cabernet Sauvignons. This 2003 seemed to stand out from the crowd, surprisingly better than its ’02 and ’04 counterparts. After careful analysis back at the OntarioWineReview lab here is what I determined about this wine. A nose loaded with oak, smoke, black currant, black cherry and cedar. In fact cedar seems to dominate this wine: beginning, middle and end. The mouth shows more oak, some cherry, and over time some green pepper emerged … but again there is was, cedar. The way I figure it Angels Gate heavily wooded the wine to extract some flavours out of it. After a while I felt like I was drinking liquid wood and was lucky not to get splinters in my tongue. This is not a put down of the wine, nor an insinuation that it is poorly made wine, Angels Gate winemaker, Natalie Spytkowsky, did the best she could with a bad crop – and it would be interesting to see what happens if we give this wine another 3 years to settle. I’ll get back to you. For now it’s pretty good considering the year – pick up a bottle and decide for yourself. Available at the winery only.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pelee Island Winery 2005 Zweigelt-Gamay Noir - $10.45

I’m proud to be a non-smoker, if anybody asks I am quick to tell them “I’m a non-smoker.” But there have been occasions, like on vacation in Cuba or with a glass of Port in the garage, that I have partaken in the occasional cigar (maybe every 6 months or so); for some reason it just gets to be that time of year when I feel my inner Spaghetti-Western-Era Clint Eastwood come out, and I’ll go out and buy myself one of those small, thin vanilla cigars, or a rum dipped, or something that claims it is “chocolate”, or something just as unusual or exotic (they usually smell great but they inevitably turn out to be disappointing in the mouth). This long-winded story about my rare puffing habits is explanation as to how I picked up cherry tobacco from this wine – I just remember it from one of those unusual cigars I have purchased. Now back to the wine … the blend is usually heavier on the Gamay than the Zweigelt, but in 2005 Zweigelt grew like a weed and Pelee reversed the order of the wine to be 60/40 in favour of the Zwei. A nose of cherry, rhubarb and yes, sweet tobacco with a faint touch of earth starts this wine off. Mouth-wise there’s a whole host of red and black fruit to chew on, as well as some cherry cigar residue – sweet on the front palate, tart on the finish. Immensely quaffable, easy to drink and light tannins makes this a perfect red to chill (just a bit) and serve all on its own; but unlike my infrequent cigars, this one does not disappoint. Available at the LCBO and the winery.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ridgepoint Wines 2004 Meritage - $ 19.95

I have tried a few 2004 wines over the last few weeks and am impressed by what our winemakers have made from what is considered a pretty average year. This Ridgepoint offering fits right into that category and is a fine example of some of the reserves coming out from 2004 (although there is no mention of “reserve” on the label). This Meritage is made up of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, of course those familiar with Meritage will remark that it lacks the Merlot, which would make it a “true meritage” blend, but what the heck, it tastes just fine without it. A nose of oak, black fruit, cassis, cedar, cocoa with hints of cinnamon. While in the mouth you’ll get some dusty tannins that give way to cinnamon, blackberry and sour black cherry. Give it some time the flavours are sure to round out a little and become more fruit forward; currently the nose it is quite lovely. Available at the winery only.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sandbanks Estate Winery 2005 Baco Noir - $19.95

Before we begin the Baco Noir Challenge I thought we should look at a Baco Noir wine, one that has not been entered for the Crown. Sandbanks is a new winery located in Prince Edward County run by Catherine Langlois out of what I can only assume is the basement of her home; a home which is surrounded by acres of vineyards (see newsletter #38 for a full winery review). She admitted to me that this wine also contained 10% Geisenheim (a white grape variety) which adds to the smoothness of this wine, but is not listed on the label. The nose has smoky, woodsy, earthy and black cherry notes, while inside the mouth a black cherry beginning ends with a tart raspberry finish. Smooth, easy texture with a hint of sweetness, but still clocks in at a zero. How her wine does during the challenge we shall soon see. Available at the winery only.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Southbrook Winery 2003 Cabernet - $14.95

If it is at all possible for a wine to be a meal this is it. There’s a hint of iodine on the nose but it intermingles with the black fruit and vanilla beautifully, so it’s not off-putting or detracting, it just makes up part of the whole. A definite smoky oak presence rounds off the nose. On the palate there’s more smoky tones especially in the finish, it’s like you’re eating a nice corned beef (read: smoked meat) sandwich with green peppers and onions (maybe my mind put the last one there). Mouth-filling and not too tannic. A very pleasant drink for anytime – but especially when you’re hungry … very satisfying. Available at the winery only.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sanson Estates Winery 2002 Shiraz

Purchased during one of my visits to the Lake Erie North Shore region in the past two years. At the time of initial tasting in the tasting room, I thought it just might be one of the best Shiraz’s made in Ontario. About a year after opening the bottle and consuming the contents I am still of that opinion. Strangely enough Dennis has never entered this beauty into competition – deciding instead to take a modest approach by saying “it’s not bad”. Well his “not bad” means great value and a great wine for you – made in the French Rhone-style of Syrah, than the jammy, rich fruit bombs of Australian Shiraz … this wine currently shows a robust nose of green pepper, black cherry, asparagus and black current … the taste is a blend of spicy-peppery-ness with black fruit backbone. This still has time to rest for a few years, but it is drinking well right now. Currently sold out, so if you are holding a few in the cellar, judge consumption time accordingly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rosehall Run 2005 Sullyzwicker (74% Riesling/26% Ehrenfelser) - $14.95

I have, since I was a lad, enjoyed apple juice. Unfortunately these days the only time I take comfort in apple juice is when I am under-the-weather, laid up in bed with a sore throat and aches and pains. Apple juice has come to signify wellness and feeling better to me, it is my “comfort food”. Also because of my love for apple juice I have an affinity for well-made apple wine. After that preamble let me say that Sullyzwicker is not an apple wine, it’s 76% Riesling and 26% Ehrenfelser, but it tastes and smalls exactly like a macintosh-based apple juice with a kick. I swear to the good Lord above that 1) there are no apples used in the making of this wine and 2) it tastes like there should be. So let’s recap: love apple juice, love apple wine, Sullyzwicker tastes like apple wine, therefore if you are like me you should love this wine. If you can make the same leap of logic that I just did my suggestion is buy it, drink it, love it. Enjoy with a light snack of cheese and crackers on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or on its own, the low alcohol will make sure you’ll be clearheaded and coherent come dinner time. Available at the winery only.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Rush Creek Wines Decadence - $10.50

Let’s start off the new year with something interesting and unique (though in the fruit wine world it is taking off like gangbusters): fruit wine and chocolate. This wine is a slam-dunk for your sniffer as chocolate wafts right out of the glass, grabs you by the lapel and gives your whole body a shake. As the wine warms up the strawberries start to assert themselves, but never more than the chocolate which seems to last and last and last. There is no secret that this wine is made with strawberry wine and cocoa – so that is why those two smells are there. You’d expect a wine that smells this way to be super-sweet, but you’d be wrong. In the glass it looks strawberry in colour and tastes chocolaty in the mouth right up to the finish where tart, almost sour, strawberry kicks back, leaving you with a drier than expected finish … but wait Decadence isn’t finish with you yet. As the finish lingers on, the sour-strawberry dissipates and the sweet chocolate returns. Making for a pleasurable drinking experience. Not a wine you could have a full glass of, but a fun and interesting half-glass-way to end off a relaxing evening with friends. Available at the winery only.