Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jackson-Triggs 2006 Delaine Vineyard Pinot Noir - $26.95

In 2005 there wasn’t enough of this single vineyard wine to go around, in fact the LCBO, being the greedy little Guses that they are took all 200 cases that were made; which meant there was not even a drop to drink for the winery. A year later we have a different story – a more ample vintage in 2006 gave the Delaine Vineyard a better crop, thus more wine – so the LCBO can take their share and you and I can sample it at the winery. Loaded with lots of strawberry, raspberry and earthy goodness, surrounded by layers of tannins, acidity and the goodness of red fruit. This one’s ready now or over the next 3-4 years.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vineland 2006 Cabernet Franc - $12.95

This week I’m combining the weekly wine note with the Taste it Again Grape Guy section; we’ll call this little piece – and the wines they are a changin’ (cue the music).

When I first met this Vineland 2006 Cabernet Franc (general list $12.95) it was May of 2007 – one month after bottling – and it was a real disappointment in comparison to the 2005 model: reedy and weedy, green as hell – I saw some potential here, enough to give it a plug back in Newsletter #70 (Cabernet Franc Preview). 2005 had been such a holdable-beauty and this one …

Fast-forward a year and I am on a tour of Vineland (a group I organized), winemaker Brian Schmidt appears at my left shoulder (he moves pretty stealthfully for a big man); touching my elbow he says: “have you tried the 2006 general list Cabernet Franc lately?” I respond with a bit of a shudder. “No”. “It’s a different wine from what you remember,” he pauses before saying, “I remember you said you didn’t like it”. Now, it’s my policy never to write a bad review – if I don’t like a wine than I just leave it alone – there’s no need to trash it, there are so many good wines out there from Ontario that telling you about the bad ones seems like a waste of space and ink. So how on G-d’s green earth did Brian find out about my initial reaction to the 2006; which is exactly what I’m thinking as he stands there smiling at me and says, “Come with me.”

I follow him down the stairs to the tasting room, all the way looking at my thumbs and wondering if I am going to miss them. We get downstairs and he pulls a fresh bottle off the shelf, shows it to me for verification purposes, pulls the cork, pours a glass and places it in front of me, again with that smile.

“Okay,” I tell myself, “humour the man, after all he’s bigger than you – smile politely, nod, tell him it’s good and be on your way.” I reach for the glass, give it a swirl and hold it up my nose – ready for that head snapping greenness to take hold of my olfactories … I inhale, and … I inhale again … and inhale again. I look at the bottle Brian has placed on the counter: it definitely says 2006 Cabernet Franc. Un-frickin’-believable! The reedy-weedy-greeny is gone, replaced by blackberries, cassis, touch of tobacco; the palate follows suit with black fruit and tobacco notes … well, well, well …

With a year in bottle and 56 cases left in inventory it would seem that Vineland has a hit on its hands. The LCBO is running low, the ’07 is on deck (set for Mid- June release) and the ’06 has turned into a bona-fide great wine.

So I hear you asking, what’s your point Grape Guy? It’s further proof (as if you needed any – though with some people you would be surprised) that wine changes in the bottle. I tried this one three times over the past year: once just after bottling, once a few months later, and again in November at the Cabernet Franc Challenge (the wine placed 31 out of 31) and each time I believed the wine to have been no more that average. But here we are, a year later, and this wine has finally come into its own.

Now. I’m not saying this kind of ugly-duckling-to-swan transformation happens all the time, some wines are the same kind of bad on day 365 as they are on day 35 …but always be open to re-trying something. If you’re at a winery you’ve visited before and the same wine is being offered to you, don’t be afraid to retry, the worst that happens is you still don’t like it; the best thing … you’ll find a new drinking buddy – so to speak.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Niagara College 2007 Riesling - $11.95

Those of you who are of an observant nature (and have trundled down to Niagara) have probably noticed that the ‘07 Rieslings are hitting the shelves and I know that you Riesling fans will be thrilled with these wines: the acidity and flavours are amazing (in the ones I’ve tried anyway). As you may or may not know, the Niagara College Teaching Winery is producing our winemakers of the future (as well as their own wines) and they seem to be teaching these, for lack of a better term, “kids”, good technique, if this Riesling is any indication of what is being taught there. This wine can best be described in three words: floral, fresh and lemony – and of course, I shouldn’t fail to mention the great zing of acidity. The price is also something to crow about, making this an even better bargain. I can only hope they’re teaching about pricing wines too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Marynissen 2003 Cabernet - $14.50

If you hang around Marynissen long enough you’ll hear words and phrases like “best red wines”, “known for our reds”, “old world winemaking style”, “Oldest red vines in Niagara” and my personal favourite, “don’t touch the cat”. A recent stop into Marynissen elicited all those phrases plus, “the dog is tired from sleeping all day” – but I digress … The ’03 Cabernet is a “found wine”: a wine they thought they had sold out of but “found” a skid of – so after popping the cork on a bottle they determined it was doing quite well. It’s a 50/50 blend of Cabernets Franc and Sauv. The wine is showing well right now with leathery-black fruit, good firm tannins, good acidity level and quite a dry finish. This wine is good now and over the next 2-3 years. It’s also well priced from something they found in the “basement”, so to speak.