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.