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.