Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Calamus 2007 Gewurztraminer - $13.00

Last year Calamus called this wine “Segitta” and charged $15 for it – the name was silly but the wine in the bottle was serious. This year, they’ve come back to a serious name, “Gew├╝rztraminer” (also the name of the grape – for those who don’t know) for this serious wine, and now it’s the price that’s the big joke here: thirteen bucks for this beauty, someone was asleep at the quality to price ratio button (thank goodness). The nose is spicy, floral, lychee, and exotic with a touch of orange peel and real appeal … the taste is even more enticing with more peachy-lychee goodness, the right amount of spice and even some white pepper. The finish is long with a spiced-orange-peel flavours left behind. This is a seriously good wine that requires you to pick it up by the case load (or half case if you prefer) … especially if you like Asian, Thai or are just serious about good wine at awesome prices.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coyote’s Run 2007 Cabernet - $16 (for a limited time)

In a perfect world one could raise and lower one’s price based on vintage and quality without any problem. Oh wait, you can do that, unless your wine is listed at the LCBO; which just so happens is the case with this Coyote’s Run offering. In 2005 this 50-50 blend of Cabernet was exquisite and the winery priced the wine at $17 … the LCBO liked it too, so they bought some and put it on their general list. In 2006, owner Jeff Aubry thought the vintage wasn’t as good as the ’05 and lowered the price by a buck, the LCBO said “we can do that”. We are now starting to see wines from the outstanding 2007 vintage and recognizing quality level increase, Jeff wanted to return his wine back to the original $17 – the LCBO isn’t quite sure he should be doing this. Which at this moment is good for you and me, but not so good for Coyote’s Run. So be warned, this wine will raise in price, but for now we are getting one heck of a deal on a wine loaded with black cherry, earthy-cedary nuances, lots of black fruit like cassis and black berry, cinnamon, spice, a full mouth feel with good tannins and a dusting of bittersweet chocolate on the finish. Funny thing is, with all those descriptors this wine is still a bit closed at this time – I’d give it a year to a year and a half before opening and a cellarability of 7-plus years … if you can’t wait then the decanter is your next best option.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hillebrand 2007 Artist Series Sauvignon Blanc - $11.95; 2007 Artist Series Limited Edition Sauvignon Blanc - $15.95

Here are a couple of wines if you are looking for that last gasp of summer whites. Yes they’re both Sauvignon Blancs and the difference is a whopping $4, but I hear you saying: “there must be more than just the price difference … and to that I answer, “you’re dang straight.” Let’s start off with the $11.95 version. The Kiwis have pretty much dictated how Sauvignon Blanc should taste and smell, they’ve also done a very good job at selling it to us starting at about $17 a bottle. That’s why this Hillebrand Artist Series Sauv Blanc is such a deal at under $12 a bottle. It has the grassy, gooseberry and touch of grapefruit the Kiwis have installed in our collective brains when we see “Sauvignon Blanc” on the label, but this one is a third less the price, has touch of that biting acidity but still retains a pleasant citrus finish. The Limited Edition ($15.95) is sourced from 2 vineyards and only 500 cases were. It shows some real character differences from the first wine … could that also be due to the 30% oak component that was used during fermentation, or the 5 months of barrel age? You bet … this Savvy B. has a grassy minerality with some melon and lemon; smooth and easy on the palate with a good lengthy finish and a hint of peach at the end. It’s your choice, but you can’t go wrong with either wine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lailey Vineyard 2007 Counterpoint - $25.00

White blends seem to be gaining in popularity in Niagara (think Flat Rock’s Twisted and Hillebrand’s Trius White). Now here’s Lailey’s addition to the fray: “Counterpoint”; the difference between the two previously mentioned white blends and the Lailey version starts with it’s availability, it’s a premium, limited edition (140 cases) wine that is the “counterpoint” to their big gun red Impromptu. This white blend was also developed with a more discerning taste and clientele in mind, one who understands about complex and multi-layered wines. A blend of 100% estate fruit (that will change annually) that consists of 60% Gewurztraminer and the rest being equal parts Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and unoaked Chardonnay. The aromas are floral, spicy, lemony and vanilla. In the mouth it develops in stages: a big fat front that greets the tongue head on, while the finish has biting acidity and good length – a “counterpoint” to the fleshy beginning. Flavours include, but aren’t limited to, spicy-vanilla, sweet/sour apple, floral, mineral and much more. Scheduled for release September 2008.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Puddicombe Estates 2003 Estate Mist - $30.00

When you think about wineries in Niagara I bet Puddicombe Estates isn’t one of the first you think about, heck I bet it doesn’t make your top ten; which is too bad because they are making some excellent and innovative wines there. Their Cabernet Franc did very well in the Cabernet Franc Challenge, held earlier this year, capturing 3rd place in the Reserve category. And who’da thunk that they would be making the very first Champagne knock-off made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a full 3 years of bottle ageing, and released in August of 2007. Apples and buttered toast on the nose; slightly honeyed with apples and citrus along with a buttery-toasty taste in the mouth; there’s also good zing on the tongue and a long toasty finish. I pulled this bottle out at a family celebration and somebody said, “this tastes like Champagne” – which I’m sure Lindsay Puddicombe (winemaker) would feel is high praise indeed.