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.