Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hernder Estate Wines 2006 Riesling (Pachereva Vineyard) - $10.95

Hernder is one of many wineries that are offering a plethora of Rieslings to choose from: sweet, dry, semi-sweet, blue-bottled, green-bottled, mockingbird … but because the Riesling phenomenon is taking over the Niagara area they have to find someway to separate themselves from the pack by offering up something memorable and different … they found a way to do just that by bringing out two vineyard specific Rieslings; one with its origins on the Beamsvillle Bench the other in Niagara-on-the-Lake … and what a difference between the two. My favourite is this one from the Bench, with its peach, apple, mango and pineapple nose followed by peaches and apples in the mouth. It’s a two on the sugar code but with its vibrant acidity it sure doesn’t taste that sweet. As my father is apt to say, “the most important thing in business is location, location, location” – the same can be said for grapes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Organized Crime Winery 2006 Gewurztraminer - $22.00

Back in 2007 I was on the panel of judges for Tony Aspler’s Ontario Wine Awards; we awarded at bronze medal to a new winery called Pointer’s Hill for this very Gewurztraminer made by Andrzej Lipinski ... nobody knew who or what Pointer’s Hill was, but they were a new winery helmed by a reputable winemaker. Well, as Pointer’s Hill tells it, Konrad Ejbich (a fellow wine writer – and not one to keep his opinions to himself) told them that their name was boring and would not make them standout ... so their next step was to acquire a better, catchier name; Organized Crime was born. Now there's a story here about two churches and a stolen organ which is best told by them ... there is no connection to Tony Soprano (as far as I know) – and nobody will break your leg for not buying a bottle before you leave. As for the Gewurztraminer, I finally got a chance to retry it, and yes it's very good: the nose is pure Gewurzt with full on floral, apricot, rose petal and perfume aromas. The taste is complex with good floral and spicy qualities with a touch of sweetness (1). The lengthy finish is loaded with citrus, Mac apple, and something tropical. Only 300 cases were made and they're going fast, so better get on this one quick. If sold out other good choices would be the 2006 Riesling ($17.00); Chardonnay Musque ($15.00) and/or the Unoaked Chardonnay ($18.00). Reds are due out in February 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Willow Springs Winery 2004 Pinot Noir - Testa Limited Reserve - $10.95 (new price)

Willow Springs does not grow all of their own Vinifera grapes, and the fruit they do bring in is from some of the best growers in Niagara. These Pinot Noir grapes come from the newly anointed grape king, Kevin Watson. This great first-timer Pinot is not only tasty, but a real head-scratcher, especially if you know the price of good Pinot Noir – how can something this good be so inexpensive? With its earthy red fruit (cherry, strawberry, raspberry) nose, and spectacular spices and herbs mingling with the vanilla, earth and cinnamon in the mouth. There’s also a great lengthy finish full of earth and black cherry. Great fruit and a willingness to make good wine at affordable prices – that’s what Willow Springs has always been about and this is a darn fine Pinot to prove it. In fact, it just might be what the turkey ordered; and although the holidays are over those frozen leftovers would welcome this little bit of jazzing up. Bon appetite.

This wine is even a better deal at its new lower price of 10.95 (reg. $13.95).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bella Vigne 2006 Leon Millot / Foch - $15.95

Last year winemaker/grower/owner Pat Del-Gatto of Bella Vigne in Prince Edward County made a lip-smackingly good Millot / Zweigelt blend. Not realizing how good it was going to be and frustration with his Zweigelt grapes, he ripped them out of his vineyard. Now. how do you follow up a wonderful tasty wine like that without the whole cast? Easy, take a page out of Hollywood’s book - bring back the star (Leon) and give him a different supporting cast (Foch) – they’ve been doing it on TV and in the movies for years. Now an 85/15 Leon / Foch blend you’ll find this wine has lots of earthy raspberry and strawberry notes with a touch of Fochness – but not enough to be off-putting. It’s smooth in the mouth and benefits from about half-an-hour in the fridge. What’s more 2 years in the cellar would benefit its smoothness factor. Enjoy now or lie down, it’s your choice … buy 2 and you can do both – and as the old knight said to Indiana Jones on his last crusade, “You have chosen wisely.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Vineland 2005 Elevation Cabernet-Merlot - $25.00

Vineland has finally plugged that hole they had between their $16 and $40 bottles of wine with their new Elevation series. Elevation is vineyard specific … and, as the name suggests, from elevated vineyards; it also showcases “terroir” (soil type) in each bottle. This Elevation is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, has lots of dark and red fruits on the nose making it a real pleasure to sink your nose into. In the mouth there’s more pleasure to come, with cherry, blackberry and a touch of dark chocolate. Good acidity and some pretty hefty tannins lead to a surprising yet excellent velvety soft finish … something I wouldn’t have expected with those weighty mid-palate tannins. If you like to lie your wine down there’s an ageing potential of 7 to 8 years, according to the winemaker Brian Schmidt, but I think you could safely round that up to 10 without a problem. Kudos to Vineland for not just filling a price gap with any old wine, but doing it with something worthy of the price tag. Look for more wines in the Elevation line coming soon.