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.