Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Some of my wife's friends came over for dinner, and we had two nice wines with ribs tonight:

2001 Sierra Cantabria Cuvee Especial (Rioja)
2003 Casa Lapostolle Merlot Cuvée Alexandre (Chile)

This was a huge departure for me, as I usually go straight to the Pinot to match the Black Bean Ribs. I actually opened the Merlot first, under duress, as I as late getting home and everyone was thirsty! Rapid decant, and drank it at cellar temp rather than chambre...

WOW - the Casa Lapostolle is big, powerful, fruity, long finish, spectacular. Sorry I don't have more detail - allergies were acting up and I lost my notes...

As for the Sierra Cantabria, also a wonderful wine. Whereas the Casa Lapostolle was not yet ready, the Sierra Cantabria was full bodied with a nice nose - ready for drinking.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

1999 Hacienda Monasterio

The 1999 Hacienda Monasterio is from Ribera del Duero in Spain, and is made from tempranillo (70%), cabernet sauvignon (15%) and merlot (15%). The nose was beautiful and aromatic, with an overwhelming scent of vanilla. The bouquet also included scents of rose, black cherry, heavy oak, pine, pepper, smoke, maybe even some caramel. "Smells like dessert", to quote my notes. The taste matched this terrific nose. This well-balanced, full-bodied red had was amazing - powerful and elegant, soft and tannic, all at the same time. The soft glycerin/fruity taste finished off with a "walloping tannic follow through, firm acidity, Bordeaux-like". A very long finish. Very nice indeed. This wine should continue to improve, a theory I can test on the 3 other bottles in my cellar. I think it is important to note that this wine paired very well with our meal, accentuating rather than overpowering the dinner. Note this wine was the winner of our first Spanish tasting (see July 2004 post), and was a top wine at our Champions tasting in November 2004.
Score: 18/20

Had this with BBQ'd lamb chops (breaking my lamb/shiraz rule...). This would pair well with many different types of food, but especially the BBQ.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

2001 Poggio Bronzone

Belguardo's 2001 Poggio Bronzone comes from the Morellino di Scansano region of Tuscany. Belguardo is owned by Marchesi Mazzei, the owner of Castello di Fonterutoli in Chianti, which happens to be one of my favourite Chianti producers. Anyway, this wine had a very nice nose, with scents of blackberry, cherry, flowers (violet and rose), leather, with some hints of musroom, pepper and tea. "Lovely, but not intense, great fruit with other nice aromas." On the palate I thought I had some truffle aromas as well? Anway, this was a very nice tasting wine, medium-bodied with firm tannins. Mmmm! It was neat to taste this just three days after my Vigna del Sorbo (see Aug. 20/06 post) - this packed as great a punch, but brought everything into balance. Nice, long finish, close to 20 seconds. A terrific wine that should still improve, an absolute steal at C$23.
Score: 17/20

I enjoyed this wine with a pasta dish containing mild Italian sausage and a light tomato sauce

Sunday, August 20, 2006

2000 Vigna del Sorbo

Fontodi's 2000 Chianti Classico "Vigna del Sorbo" had a very nice and aromatic nose which I described as "rustic Italian, with some edge". Nice scents of blackcurrant, undergrowth, leather, cloves, pine, hay, pencil shavings and maybe some pear? "Lots of wonderful aromas, very sangiovese, very Italian". Promising! Unfortunately, the harsh acidity and rough tannins made this a very unbalanced wine. I wrote "Dilute and slightly astringent, not what I expected. Very sangiovese, but I have had better at a bunch of price levels." It settled down with some air, but was still quite unbalanced. It had decent length, and may get better with more time in my cellar. Overall, not a bad Chianti, but definitely not up to the lofty price tag - C$48.
Score: 15.5/20

I will say that it was an excellent foil for my famous 'pesto lasagna'.

Friday, August 18, 2006

2003 Sandhill Barbera "Small Lots"

A Canadian Barbera? Cats and Dogs living together? Yes, a rather unique idea (I am not aware of any other Canadian Barbera pioneers), but it works. I have spoken highly of Sandhill in other posts, and this further reflects on the quality of winemaking at this house.

The 2003 Sandhill Barbera is very interesting on the nose - spicy - my wife accurately described it as 'incense', with white cherries and some interesting forest notes. It was very "hot", with the high (14.5%) alcohol overpowering some of the other scents. On the palate it tasted wonderfully Italian, dry, oaky, with that taste of the wild. It was a light to medium bodied wine with a short finish, for drinking now.

Overall, it was a well balanced and very interesting wine, with the only defect the strong alcohol notes that overpowered some of the other (beautiful) scents and flavours. It was very much like the Italian Barberas that I have tasted, and competitive (C$27) with Barberas in that price range.

Readers should note that this was only the fourth vintage of Sandhill's Barbera - I am impressed with the quality of wines produced by this house with such young vineyards - their wines should continue to improve in coming years.

I would give this wine some air before drinking. It would pair well with a meat lasagne or thin crust pesto pizza.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

2004 Campobarro Tempranillo

The 2004 Campobarro Tempranillo (Who?) is from the Ribera del Guadiana (Where?) region of Spain. Cost? C$9.15 Those who know me must certainly think I've gone crazy!

This was not a random act of penny-pinching. The Gazette guy gave it 'four stars', so I thought "What the heck? I can always cook with it". Not bad - nice gamey scents on the nose, good balance, nice fruit. No length, but hey - this is Vin de Table! It will probably sell out at that price, given the local media star's rating, but an excellent idea for a 'big event' wine. You know, where Uncle Bill from Moose Jaw will probably mix vodka into it anyway, and you still want to enjoy something reasonable.