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.

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