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Four wines from California, Canada, and Texas

I am doing my best to catch up on my tasting notes from the holidays. The pair of wines from Carlisle are undeniably large and flavorful making them fun for a glass or two.  The 2006 Carlisle, Syrah, Sonoma County is in the best shape with its fuzzy dark flavors.  The 2006 Carlisle, Two Acres Red Wine, Russian River Valley has better focus but I suspect it will soon become unknit.  From Texas via Lou, the 2011 Duchman Family Winery, Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard also showed oak notes but this time with black fruited Aglianico flavors.  This was open for two days before I tried it but I still liked the bits of fat before the inky finish.  It is a good wine to drink.  The 2012 Chateau des Charmes, Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, St. David’s Bench is completely opposite in style which is what you should expect in a wine made using Gamay from the Niagara Peninsula.  The puckering black fruit and stone flavored finish make you revisit the glass time and time again.  Another interesting bottle from Lou!

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2006 Carlisle, Syrah, Sonoma County
Alcohol 15.1%.  This big wine sported savory flavors of blue and dark black fruit.  The initial notes of roast earth dissipated bringing on dense, fuzzy flavors of dark strawberries with a touch of heat in the finish.  This wine still has sweet fruit and ripe structure but the edges are now rounded.  *** Now but will last.

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2006 Carlisle, Two Acres Red Wine, Russian River Valley
This wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Carignane, and Alicante Bouschet.  Alcohol 14.8%.  The nose was jammy like an Australian shiraz.  The round, smokey, leather start took on some weight before transitioning to a laser focused mineral and black fruited finish.  The mouth generally followed the nose with unabashed, jam fruit in the middle.  It did, however, balance out with a nice texture of fine grained wood.  *** Now but will last.

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2011 Duchman Family Winery, Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard
Alcohol 14.3%.  The sweet and round fruit mixed with sweet oak before it turned towards black fruited flavors.  It showed both some grip and a hint of fat along with textured tannins.  Things wrapped up with a sweet and inky finish.  ** Now – 2018.

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2012 Chateau des Charmes, Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, St. David’s Bench
Alcohol 13%.  The young nose made way towards flavors of black fruit that puckered on the sides of the tongue.  There was a hint of focused ripeness and weight in the middle.  The finish brought watering acidity and a stone-mineral profile.  *** Now – 2017.

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I Get Fooled by Hard Cider

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This past weekend a small group of us gathered for a wine tasting and dinner at Lou’s house. There was no set theme this time but it did not take us long to figure out our contributions. Jenn particularly liked the 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser we recently tasted so she suggested we bring that and another Balkan wine. So I added in the 2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa and 2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar to round things out. With two wines from Serbia and one from Lebanon we were sure to shake things up.

We started with the Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut so I did not bother to take a note. The second wine, Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres was flawed. With the Domaine des Baumard flawed Lou quickly returned with a replacement. I was stumped and kept thinking it was some weird white wine from Pennsylvania. The wine was revealed to be Hard Cider from Maryland! Upon revisiting I could get the apple skins. With such a twist it was already a fun tasting!

We then moved downstairs into the tasting room to taste through the five red wines. The first wine was immediately obvious to me (having recently tasted it) as the Agrina, Portuguiser. It was a polarizing wine with half of us loving it and the other half not. The Paveil de Luze showed quite well at first with classic wood box aromas. It was less opulent than other 2009s and has a structure that will allow it to benefit from cellaring. The Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa is still young with a core of fruit that is still tight with tannins to match. The flavors are good but I would be inclined to cellar this as well. The Domaine Saint Damien was lovely, captivated everyone right away, and was the first to be finished. It continued to develop over the evening with intact bottles likely to do so for several years. It is a treat now but I would wait five years. The Chateau Musar, Hochar developed over the evening in fits and starts. I initially thought it quite soft and a bit disappointing so I rated it two stars. Upon revisiting it had fleshed out becoming enlivened by its acidity. On the second night, without any gas, it drank great. Who knows, this wacky wine might outlive all of the others. Jenn and I were getting ready to take off so I only briefly tasted the Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux. Lou continued the cider theme by producing a vintage bottle of Ice Cider from Quebec! Take my note and rating for what its worth and certainly do not expect to switch your Sauternes with Ice Cider. But if you like Cider and apples this is pretty cool stuff. I can almost imagine why fruit wines were so popular centuries ago. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions and to Lou for both hosting and pulling out interesting drinks.

Lou double-decanted the Domaine Saint Damien one and a half hours before the tasting. I double-decanted the Vino Budimir and Chateau Musar one hour prior with the Agrina just half an hour. Everything else was opened shortly before tasting. All beverages were served blind except for the Domaine Cordiere Pere et Fils and the Domaine Lafrance. Please find my notes below in the order tasted.

2005 Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light yellow straw. There was a stinky, foxy nose,….bad yuck. Flawed.

NV Distillery Lane Ciderworks, The Jefferson Hard Cider, Maryland
This cider is made from pressed Newtown Pippins which were aged in American oak. Alcohol 7.3%. The color was a light golden-yellow, a touch cloudy. The medium strength nose revealed dried apricot, sweeter aromas, and floral hints. In the mouth the flavors were much drier and lighter, with a hint of citrus. It started off lively then faded towards the finish. After the reveal I picked up apple skin on the nose. * Now.

2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Portuguiser. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium ruby. The light to medium nose was scented with berry-liscious aromas. In the mouth this wine offered up bright, concentrated flavors of berries, some tartness, and lifted perfume. Very fruit driven. *** Now-2014.

2009 Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was light to medium grapey ruby. The nose was Bordeaux like with black red fruit, wood box, and a little texture. In the mouth the flavors were savory, a little lighter than the nose indicated, and focused. There were tart black fruits, minerals, wood box, and acidity from the start. This was nice with integrated tannins and flavors that, with air, became drier. I would cellar it a few years. On the second night the nose was higher toned with tart black fruit in the mouth, a dry quality…basically shutdown, needs some age. *** 2015-2025.

2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa, Zupa, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 60% Prokupac and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. The Prokupac was aged for three years in 3000 L oak casks and the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was medium garnet. The light, tight nose bore interesting aromas which I could not describe. In the mouth there was ripe, focused fruit, a little spicy, and the impression of a young wine. The core of fruit was a bit wound up but still had a lifted quality before the flavors dried and faded a little bit. This was grapey with ripe tannins, and brighter, powdery red fruit in the finish and a racy, black aftertaste. On the second night the nose was very grapey. The mouth still had good ripe, concentrated fruit but the tannins structure stepped up. *** 2014-2022.

2006 Domaine Saint Damien, Cuvee La Louisane, Gigondas
Imported by Premier Cru. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache (planted in 1942), 15% Mourvedre (planted in 1977), and 5% Cinsault (planted in 1951) and Syrah sourced from parcels on the mid-hills at La Louisiane. It was fermented for six weeks in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color was light to medium ruby garnet. The nose was light with black-red fruit, a touch of sweet vanilla, and with air it reminded me of Bordeaux. In the mouth there was ripe, concentrated fruit, lifted minerally flavors, tannins, and enjoyable texture. Simply a really nice wine to drink with great potential. ***(*) Now-2027.

2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar, Bekaa Valley
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak barrels for nine months. Alcohol 13.5% The color was light garnet. The medium strength nose revealed minerally black, sweet fruit; generally nice nose with older notes. In the mouth there was red fruit and maple, soft in feel with acidity towards the end. There was some complexity but softness prevailed before an aftertaste with a little firmness. Upon revisiting the wine had fleshed out with air to become quite lively and fuller. On the second night the nose was still smelling good with vintage cherry candy. In the mouth there was dark red fruit with a similar vintage perfume note, black and red fruit, acidity which mixed with black fruit followed by interesting tannins. *** Now-2017 (perhaps longer).

2010 Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux, Saint Veran
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light golden straw. The medium strength nose reminded me of masa. The mouth followed the nose with moderate mouthfeel, good weight, and a sense of richness. Uniquely enjoyable. Not Rated.

2007 Domaine Lafrance, Cuvee Speciale, Ice Cider Quebec – (200mL)
From apples harvested in January which are then fermented in vat. It takes 60 apples to produce 375mL. Alcohol 10.5%. The color was a very light golden amber. The medium strength nose revealed potpourri, old perfume, and some aromas not encountered before. In the mouth this medium bodied cider bore similar flavors with tart fruit, apple acidity, and plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. Showed better integration on the third night with almost syrupy body that made way to tart fruit and integrated acidity. ***?? Now-??.

We Taste Canadian Wine Amongst Others

September 4, 2012 2 comments

Lou and I took advantage of some quiet time this past holiday weekend to taste a random selection of wines. Lou brought two wines from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The Summerhill Pyramid Winery was interesting for it was my first time tasting the Ehrenfelser grape. This is a German cross between Riesling and Silvaner. A far more interesting drink was the Stag’s Hollow red wine. While I have tasted both Canadian white and dessert wines I am confident that the Stag’s Hollow is my first experience with a Canadian red. There was a slightly underripe, greenhouse nose somewhat in contrast to the mouthfeel and alcohol level. With my last glass of the wine it managed to take the essential turn for I unknowingly cast aside all analytical thoughts and simply enjoyed the wine for what it was.

The Maison Bleue, Au Contraire is not my particular favorite style of white wine but it is impeccably balanced and I suspect will live for many years. The ungassed, unrefrigerated leftovers were still strong on the third day. The Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel is a lovely, deep wine which requires several hours of air for current consumption. I highly recommend cellaring it another 3-5 years. I can readily sum up the Colline St Jean, Vacqueyras as a young wine confident with blueberries and pepper. This too should be stuck in the cellar for several years. We wrapped the tasting up with the Clos Les Lunelles. Lou had purchased some of the 2009 vintage so thought it would be fun to try the 2001. At eleven years of age there are mature notes with the ample roast aromas and flavors. The color is almost impenetrable and the structure is still significant against the fruit so perhaps this is best to drink sooner?

The Tablas Creek, Colline St Jean, and Clos Les Lunelles were double-decanted about two hours prior to tasting. The other wines were opened up right before we tasted them. As usual the leftover were split up between Lou and I, gassed with Private Preserve, then tasted on the following night.

2010 Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Ehrenfelser, Okanagan Valley –
This wine is 100% Ehrenfelser sourced from organic vineyards and fermented with indigenous yeasts. It was Pyramid Cellared. Alcohol 11.0%. The wine is a very light straw color. There is a sweet, floral nose mixed with tropical notes. In the mouth the wine is moderately sweet with immediately mouthfeel from the residual sugar. The mouth follows the nose tropical fruits and floral notes with a good mouthfeel. The flavors dry up in the finish where, perhaps, a touch of chalk exists. Well developed flavors but not much depth and it could stand to have more acidity. ** Now.

2010 Maison Bleue, Au Contraire, Yakima Valley – $20
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a 9 acre block of the French Creek Vineyard planted in 1980. It was fermented and aged sur-lie for seven months in a 50% stainless steel and 50% oak. 50% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Alcohol 13.2%. The color is a light yellow. The light nose reveals white fruit. In the mouth this wine is very precise with light, focused flavors. It is a little chalky. The acidity powers the entire wine even as it puts on a little weight. There is a good mouthfeel and a decent, lengthy aftertaste which leave some ripe tannins on the teeth. On the second night there were some yellow fruit, yeast, and barrel notes. *** Now-2017.

2009 Stag’s Hollow, The Heritage Block, Okanagan Valley –
This wine is a blend of 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from estate and purchased fruit. It was fermented with selected yeasts and underwent malolactic fermentation before aging 18 months in American and French oak. TA 6.6g/L, pH 3.63, RS 2 g/L Alcohol 14.1%. The color is a light to medium cherry ruby. The nose was tight with some greenhouse notes. In the mouth this Bordeaux blend showed some violet fruit then a touch of tart, red fruit. It was a little racy with some supportive licorice flavors and cherry notes. At first I thought the finish was a bit medicinal but that impression faded. Later that night and the next day the wine fleshed out nicely with some sweet spices along with dry tannins. In the end a satisfying glass. *** Now-2015.

2007 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel, Paso Robles –
This wine is a blend of 44% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 21% Syrah, and 6% Counoise sourced from the 120 acre organic estate vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts then aged in French oak foudres. Alcohol 14.5%. The color is a medium ruby. The light to medium nose bore aromas of sweet ripe fruit, a little bramble, and tilts towards red fruit. The flavors immediately start off concentrated with a good mouthfeel. There are bluer fruits with power, very fine drying tannins, and some initial let-loose heat in the aftertaste. Still young with some carbon dioxide. After several hours the wine came together with garrigue, some sweet spice, and captivating dark, earthy notes which hang low through the aftertaste. The herbs are quite nice. A lovely wine but still tight. **** 2016-2030.

2010 Domaine de la Colline St Jean, Vacqueyras – $23
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre sourced from a 14 hectares of 50 year old vines on soils of clay and limestone. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement vats before aging in 70% cement vat and 30% used oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. The medium strength nose reveals young pure fruit with a powerful pepper note and eventually blueberry jam. In the mouth the pepper fruit shines through as the wine puts on complexity in to the aftertaste. There are strong, fine+ drying tannins and sweet spices. On the second night the wine remains young with an added graphite note to the blueberry fruit, a racy aspect, and a dark note in the aftertaste. There is prominent structure to this modern styled wine. ***(*) 2017-2025.

2001 Clos Les Lunelles, Cotes de Castillon – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is an approximate blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc.Alcohol 13.5%. The darkest of wines with a very dark core showing some garnet and brick on the thin rim. The medium strength nose carries older fruit, some roast, a little sour red fruit, wood, and dried tobacco. I also noted aromas of grilled hot dogs. In the mouth there are strong flavors of herbs and roast delivered in a surprisingly round manner. With air the dry red fruit mixes with fig and dried fruit. The acidity is balanced and the aftertaste is good. Plenty of life ahead but I suspect the tannic structure will outlive the fruit. *** Now-2020.

Wines at Lou’s House

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

We recently gathered at Lou’s house for a celebratory dinner.  Though the house is in the last weeks of renovation Lou and Adriene were willing to host a small dinner attended by Jeannie, Nick, Jenn, and myself.  While Lou set out cheeses, prepared both fresh and steamed oysters from Prince Edward Island, and seared Yellow Fin tuna, we all drank some wine and explored the renovation.  No dinner with Lou would be complete without a Champagne starter, let alone a bottle from Weygant-Metzler, so I was thrilled to see a selection from Nathalie Falmet.  At the Champagne Day at Weygandt Wines I tried and very much enjoyed the Cuvee Brut Nature and Cuvee Le Val Cornet.

NV Nathalie Falmet, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Disgorged 12 October 2010.  There is a light color in the glass.  In the mouth there is a good balance between the yeast and subtle ripe fruit with the perfect texture from the bubbles.  Quite nice, drink this very good wine over the next several years.  Jenn was thoroughly pleased by this Champagne.

2008 Varner, Chardonnay, Bee Block, Spring Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the 3.5 acre Bee Block featuring 24-year-old vines.  It was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged for 8 months in 30% new French oak barrel.  There was a light golden color in the glass.  The subtle nose made way to the fresh, yellow fruit with an unctuous mouthfeel that was not creamy.  The refreshing acidity led to cool flavors in the aftertaste where flavors of minerals and toast persisted in the mouth.  There were notes of “honey”.  Very well-balanced.  Unassuming and quiet, this very good wine will become even better with several years of age.

We moved on to the red wines with a Moroccan lamb shank entrée to accompany theme.  Lou felt the entrée would work with the Chateauneuf du Papes wines.  Indeed the two wines and entrée were aromatically sympathetic.  He cooked in his temporary kitchen which was relocated into his living room with his new range sitting less than 20 feet away.  Starved for counter space and burner space his almost illegally powerful new gas range surely would have let Lou sit down to taste the wines in a more timely fashion.   Perhaps the heat of the kitchen primed Lou so we started with the Godolphin and Entre Deux Meres.

2005 Ben Glaetzer, Godolphin, Barossa Valley
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz from 85-year-old vines and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from 60-year-old vines.  The wine underwent malolactic fermentation in oak followed by 14 months of aging in 100% new oak of which 20% was American and 80% French.  Appropriately enough 70% of the barrels were hogshead and 30% barrique.  For a while the aromatic nose reminded both Jenn and I of soy sauce.  In the mouth it was rich with fruit, roasted, and quite mouthfilling.  The tarter red fruit had a lot of up front flavors with the tannins resolved.  While this was a good, primary wine that could stand more aging, it was not my favorite profile.

2005 Drinkward Peschon, Entre Deux Meres, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  A very opaque color with more garnet than the Godolphin.  There was jammy fruit with a cedar note.  The assertive flavors had sweet spice, a well-integrated feeling, and more cedar spice in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was still tight but show steely, mineral flavored fruit with dark fruit notes and sweet spices in the finish and aftertaste.  Tight but not dense. This good wine will undoubtedly improve with a more age.  Jenn really liked it.

1998 Bosquet des Papes, Chateauneuf du Papes
Imported by Ginday.  Typically a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault  sourced from 45-year-old vines.  It was fermented in cement vats then aged for 12-18 months in old oak casks before resting in cement tanks before bottling.  Though it bore a similar garnet color as the Marcoux it was a little cloudier.  There was a cedar spiced nose.  In the mouth it had a more mature profile, though still in good shape, with thinner flavors in the mouth.  It has the personality of a classic Chateauneuf du Pape.  This wine does not try to be amazing, thus it is complete in what it is.  This good wine is fully mature but may be drunk over the next several years without decline.

1998 Domaine de Marcoux, Chateauneuf du Pape
No imported listed, recently acquired by MacArthurs.  Typically a blend of 80% Grenache, 5% Cinsault, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% other varietals sourced from 40-50 year old vines.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel with 30% aged in stainless steel and 70% aged for 3 months in old oak casks and barrels.  The vibrant color leads to a nose of riper fruit which is sweeter with gritty aromas of plum.  In the mouth there is younger blue fruit with red fruit developing and ripe tannins in the aftertaste.  On the second night it was drinking beautifully with young, fruity flavors, minerals, and an expansive, almost creamy finish.  With spices in the aftertaste the ripe tannins are fine and coat the mouth.  I would cellar this very good wine another five years.

2007 Chateau des Charmes, Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara on the Lake
This is 100% Riesling harvested in October.  Our taxi cab had arrived so I quickly sampled this wine, hence the short note.  A young nose followed by sweeter flavors showing more residual sugar than acidity.  A bit simple and tilting towards unbalanced.