Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another Great Party

Earlier this month I made some suggestions for party wines, and for our annual Christmas party I followed those closely. But unlike last year's party I had to "tighten the belt", so I served a more modest selection of wines for our guests:

NV Codorniu Clasico Brut Cava (Spain)
2007 Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Yellow Label (Australia)
NV Bistro Mundo Tempranillo (Spain
2006 Meia Encosta (Portugal)
2006 Crasto (Portugal)

The bubbly starter was a huge success, with many guests sticking to the Codorniu for the entire evening (good thing I had a few extra bottles!). I didn't even bother offering a white this year, thinking this bubbly would serve both roles, and it did so ably, pairing perfectly a spread of homemade quiche, pesto lasagna, curried chicken and various cheeses and charcuterie. Available locally for just $13.65 this wine is a steal.

For the reds I had a bit of fun our guests, blinding the wines and giving the guests a few "simple" tasks: (1) pick out the box wine, (2) guess the cabernet, and (3) guess which was the most expensive. They were also asked to pick a "favourite". The most lively discussions of the evening took place in the vicinity of the four mysterious decanters - just the way I like it!

Now a few comments on the wines. The Meia Encosta was the least favourite and was nearly everyone's pick for "the box wine". This was unexpected as I was rather complimentary of this wine a few weeks back. I even opened a bottle after this event and my wife (blinded) loved it. Perhaps it was the competition, but I stick with my original assessment that this wine "...could be the king of mid-week wines."

The Spanish Bistro Mundo Tempranillo was a "table wine success", generating no major comments, positive or negative, and the decanter emptied at a healthy clip. This wine melded into the background, pairing quite well with the food on offer. Can you ask for more from a box wine?

The crowd of novices and aficionados easily picked out the Wolf Blass Yellow Label as the Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was the favourite wine of the evening for nearly half of my guests. Historically a staple in my household, I haven't had it in years - I forgot how good this inexpensive Aussie Cab was. Even better, the SAQ had a blowout two weeks before Christmas - I picked up a few bottles for just C$13. A steal at that price, and even at the current price of C$17.95 this wine is highly recommended.

The Crasto was the crowd favourite, but it was 50 - 100% more expensive (C$20.15) than the other wines on offer. Easy drinking and flavourful with a fabulous nose, it was a touch flabbier than I recall from a previous tasting but still delicious.

Overall, a great night of wines, capped off by a 2000 Bouscasse Vielles Vignes for the stragglers. And I have a few refinements to my party suggestions for next year.

Happy New Year to All!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2007 Alamos Chardonnay

I have sung the praises of Catena's wines but said little about their entry-level Alamos line of wines. With such praise for Catena's Chardonnay, I wondered if I could save a few bucks on their Alamos Chardonnay and get nearly as much pleasure? Almost...

The 2007 Alamos Chardonnay had nice ripe apple and lime notes on the nose, some flowers and a hint of vanilla. A luscious, creamy mouthfeel, very flavourful with spicy apples, this was a nearly flawless modern-styled chardonnay (with a more modest alcohol content vs. other new world chards).
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$15.65 (SAQ)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2003 Red Bordeaux: Croix-Mouton, Clarke and Pibran

There are obvious dangers in discussing a particular vintage for any wine region - a variety of micro-climates, differences in harvest conditions and even different points of view on harvesting make generalizing about a vintage hazardous. However, I have tasted a number of 2003 Clarets (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) over the past few years (2003 was my first, and biggest, year participating in the futures game) and I think I can make a few broad comments on the vintage.

While the 2003 Bordeaux reds were trumpeted by some writers at the time, it has become a controversial vintage. I have read some commentary saying that the wines don't have the structure for aging, while other writers were concerned that the wines are too hard and will take many years to sort themselves out (if ever).

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about 2003 is 'accessibility' - most of the wines I have tasted are ready to drink today after a short decant. I am of the opinion that this is not a classic vintage and that these wines are not for aging - there has been a tendency to riper fruit, higher alcohol and low acidity. While some have said that the tannins in the '03s could be unripe, or even harsh, I am finding them soft and velvety for the most part (exception below) and in a blind tasting of Bordeaux I suspect some might think a few Californian wines were slipped into the mix. Given the riper, more accessible, less structured wines that have been produced in this vintage, I suspect 2003 will ultimately be viewed as a tragedy by the experts - a vintage for Claret lovers to forget.

Which brings up an interesting point - do all Clarets need to be 'cellar-worthy' to be enjoyed? Perhaps that is the joy of variable vintages - some vintages deliver wines of incredible depth, structure and aging potential, while others deliver every pleasures to pour while your treasures age? That is my view of 2003 - there were some great, but not classic, wines produced for oenophiles to savour while waiting for their 2000s to mature...

Here are some notes on three 2003s that are on my list of Top 50 Cellar Picks:

The 2003 Chateau Pibran (Pauillac) is a modestly priced Claret that I have been buying regularly since I first tasted the 2000 vintage. A gorgeous nose of violets and cloves, damp undergrowth, fresh ground pepper and ripe blackberries, tea and smoke. Crisp and spicy on the palate with chalky tannins, well-balanced but slightly dilute, it took some time to soften up in the decanter but opened up beautifully - Lloyd said it "screamed for a steak". Score: 17/20

The 2003 Croix-Mouton (Bordeaux Superieur) is an outlier to my comments above - very flinty, with strong liquorice and vegetal notes, also showing some leathery dark fruit, violets and damp undergrowth on the nose. Structured, with crisp, minerally and smokey fruit, but rather angular and needing air time to soften up. A classic Bordeaux that should flourish with a few years in the cellar. Score: 17/20

The 2003 Chateau Clarke (Listrac Médoc) was a modern-styled wine with a big nose of vanilla-y oak and leathery ripe blackberries, some pepper and flinty notes. While not as jammy as the nose suggested, it was round and luscious with peppery fruit and woodsy tannins. Easy drinking after a short decant but it got flabby quickly. Drink now. Score: 16.5/20

Friday, December 26, 2008

2007 A.J. Adam Riesling Kabinett

Back in June I met fellow blogger Lyle Fass in New York City for a wine exchange - I passed him bottles of Donnhoff's Weissburgunder "S" and Grauburgunder "S", and he gave me a bottle of Marcillac and tonight's wine, the 2007 A.J. Adam Riesling Kabinett. A hint of flowers on the nose when first poured, revealing notes of honeyed limes, apricot, quince and wet stones as it warmed. A textbook palate: soft and slightly off dry, with a limey, tangy texture, a subtle effervescence, good acid and fine minerality. Simple but incredibly well-balanced, polished, and flavourful.
Score: 17/20
Price: barter

Lyle pitched this as a great value and from the prices I can find on the web I would agree - many thanks!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bordeaux and Beet Soup on Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, time for some Christmas Eve Borscht!

The menu was nearly identical to last year's Christmas Eve celebration so I was inclined to Pinot Noir, but I had a problem - we had eight adults for dinner. With a cellar of nearly 500 bottles you would think that this was no problem at all. Unfortunately, I have a healthy collection of nearly everything - singles and doubles of nearly every grape and region from around the world - but very few runs of three or more (most of which are not yet ready) -- PANIC!

So, my love of quirky wine bites me in the behind...certainly no Pinot Noir to serve this thirsty crowd, but a search of my cellar unearthed four bottles of the 2003 Chateau Reysson Reserve, a Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Medoc. The notes are nearly identical to 18 months ago, but it was even softer and more elegant - a lovely and relatively inexpensive Bordeaux at its peak.

This wine got me to thinking about the 2003 Bordeaux vintage...more soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Taste of Jayer-Gilles

The wines of Jayer-Gilles command relatively high prices and garner good ratings considering the modest appellations these wines come from. But they are hard to come by as this is a small domaine with limited production, so I was lucky to score a few I guess...

The 2004 Jayer-Gilles Hautes Côtes de Nuits was cheesy and musty at first, pretty dark flowers, raspberries, truffles and mushrooms, cloves, and some smokey oak notes. Elegant, light and flavourful on the palate with a bitter finish. Classic red Burgundy and terribly interesting - a touch heavy on the oak, but otherwise perfect.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$47.75 (SAQ)

The 2005 Jayer-Gilles Côte de Nuits-Villages was slatey, minerally, and slightly perfumey on the nose: pretty floral and vanilla, cinnamon and tea, damp forest and wild berries. Very tight and very minerally on the palate, tangier and crisper than the '04 above and it held up better over the evening. Both ethereal and profoundly deep, with an impressive finish that tells me this will blossom over the next few years in the cellar.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17.5+/20
Price: C$52.70 (SAQ)

An impressive pair of well-made wines from Burgundy's lesser appellations, and I have a few more of each for a future re-match.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut

Source: Laurent-Perrier USA

Many wine drinkers, myself included, reserve the Champagne for special occasions. But not tonight - tonight this fine bottle of bubbly helped to celebrate a 'little victory'.

For the price I have always considered the NV Laurent-Perrier Brut L-P to be one of the great values amongst big house Champs so I was pretty enthusiastic about opening this NV Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut, a Valentine's gift from my significant other. A pretty salmon colour in the glass, it showed a simple nose of yeasty white grapefruit with a hint of rasberries. An elegant, soft mousse on the palate with bitter grapefruit, a minerally tang and fresh acidity, it showed much better as it warmed up but remained rather uncomplicated. Apparently this is the world's best-selling rose bubbly - I can see the charm, but I would expect a touch more complexity at this price point.
cork. 12% alcohol

Score: 16/20
Price: gift

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blaufrankisch and Turkey: 2005 Heinrich

Blaufränkisch, sometimes referred to as Lemberger, Franconia and others, is Austria's second most widely planted red wine grape. I did not taste this grape in my Quest for 100, so tonight's wine further adds to my credentials as a taster of quirky grapes.

This wine was a selection of our good friends, Tara and Peter, who invited us over to celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving a few weeks back - a timely pairing idea for your upcoming turkey feast.

The 2005 Heinrich Blaufränkisch was green and earthy with peppery raspberries, heavy with meaty and leathery notes. A soft, silky texture and nice dusty raspberry fruit on the palate...fresh, but with mild acid and modest tannins. Very intriuguing, and a perfect match for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
glass cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$22.15 (SAQ)

Peter also served a Beaujolais, the 2005 Collin-Bourisset Moulin-à-Vent des Hospices - very smooth and polished, with raspberry jolly rancher and truffles, some flinty and old leathery notes, but this soft wine of candied fruit just didn't work with the turkey for me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Aussie Shiraz, Spanish Syrah

My good friend Ash, a founding member of our tasting group, stopped by on a Friday night for some wine and conversation. I had a Bordeaux standing up in the cellar for this occasion, but Ash arrived with Spanish Syrah, forcing a last minute change in plans...

When I wrote my post on palate drift a few weeks ago it was Aussie Shiraz that was most on my mind, so I opened this 2004 Torbreck "The Struie" with some trepidation. Very aromatic, it grabbed my nose and smacked me over the head with gobs of smokey toasty oak, blackberry, and violet...later unveiling notes of liquorice, cinnamon and wet coffee grounds. "Oh crap, not again, soft and jammy" I thought, but not this time. A tremendous palate full of contradiction: brawny yet elegant, robust and flavourful yet fine, luxurious velvety tannins but not definitely not 'soft' - all a prelude to an incredibly long finish. Drink after a decant today, but I recommend more time in the cellar. Yes, this blew away my expectations, but I remain disappointed - so close to perfect if Torbreck would just tone down that oak ...
cork. 14.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$52 (SAQ)

Ash pulled out a surprise for me, spoiling me with a Spanish Syrah that I had meaning to buy. You see, this wine is made by the same winery that provided a rather intriguing single varietal Petit Verdot for last year's "Oddities Tasting". The 2003 Marqués de Griñón Syrah had an equally interesting, but more subdued, primal nose - meaty and pruney notes mingle with liquorice and black pepper, some rubber and ripe black cherries arrive later in the evening. The palate was crisp, gripping, and a touch more awkward, the tannins softened to velvet over the evening. An incredibly long finish, this wine needs time...
cork. 14.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$37.25 (SAQ)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2007 Borsao, White and Red

I made a number of suggestions for party wine in a recent post, but you could do much worse than these inexpensive, widely available, Spanish offerings:

The white, the 2007 Borsao Seleccion Joven, hails from the Campo de Borja appellation, a Spanish appellation best known for Garnacha but with many authorized varietals including Tempranillo, Mazuela, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Macabeo, Chardonnay and Moscatel - this white was 100% Macabeo (Viura). Very creamy, with some white flower and green, earthy notes. Very smooth, luscious, and balanced with no rough edges, impressive at this price.
plastic cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 13.5/20
Price: C$13.15 (SAQ)

The red, a 2007 Borsao (Campo de Borja) is a blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%) and Tempranillo. A nose of dark berry fruit, tart and cedary, with some smokey and leathery notes. Light bodied, with mild tannins and oaky crisp fruit, but not overoaked. A bit awkward and unbalanced at first but it softened over evening. Enjoyable, but not memorable, a decent pour at this price. I wonder how this would stack up to these Portuguese treasures (1,2) in a blind tasting?
plastic cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 13/20
Price: C$11.65 (SAQ)

Both of these were simple, but simple is not a criticism - at this price point what I really look for is a wine that is flourful with no"rough edges", and these delivered. Great for a party!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fourth Annual BYO at A L'Os

My tasting group has been the cornerstone of this blog, pushing the envelope on wine prices and styles and in the process educating my palate in ways a wine class could never achieve. But the reason our group has continued for more than five years is that this is first and foremost a group of friends.

This friendship, and wine, brought us together for our Fourth Annual "grand tasting" at a BYO Restaurant, Montreal's À l'Os. No scoresheets tonight - just great food, conversations and vinous treasures from our respective cellars:

1988 Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien)
1999 Pio Cesare Barolo "Ornato"
2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)
2002 Domaine Chevalier Père & Fils Corton "Le Rognet"
2003 The Standish (Barossa)
2004 Domaine l'Aiguelière Côte Rousse (Coteaux du Languedoc)
2004 no. 2/3 Trio Infernal (Spain)
2004 René Rostaing Côte Rôtie "La Landonne"

But before I get to the wine, I want to say a few words about what was the most impressive Montreal BYO I have ever had the chance to dine in. Very French in style, but what impressed me was an obsession with balance - of flavours and textures - that signify a chef with complete dedication to his trade. An impressive soup of cauliflower and watercress to start - beautiful creamy texture and balance. This was followed by a blood pudding that was insanely light and fluffy, served on a bed of cooked apples and a dab of cream on top (it looked like a dessert) - Wow! The main of filet mignon with seared foie gras (an error - I asked for the mushrooms - but I didn't complain about the freebie) - simply flavourful and stunningly textured, surely the greatest steak (and foie gras) I have ever had. And I couldn't pass on a dessert of fresh figs and balsamic vinegar ice cream. All with impeccable service (despite a rowdy crowd). This was, without a doubt, THE best table to pair with your cellar that I have dined in in Montreal (but noticeably pricier). A hearty shout out to the chef!

Oops, nearly forgot the wine:

Our first pour was Pramod's 2001 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve (Napa). Rather predictably high-end Napa on the nose, with spicy vanilla, violets, dark berry fruit, white pepper and gobs of oak. Somewhat atypical on the palate - a big tannic wallop up front, but rather lighter and more elegant than the nose suggested - should soften up nicely with cellaring. Great, but I don't remember a lot of discussion around this one.

Next up was Lloyd's ancient 1988 Chateau Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien), a fourth-growth that is showing very well as it enters its third decade. It didn't go over well at first - some cellar stank I guess - but that blew off to reveal a sublime blend of mushrooms and prunes, cedar and old leather, black earth and vegetal notes. Elegant, light and earthy on the palate with crisp fruit and spicy oak - for me it was the most memorable, and most food-friendly, of the evening...ahhh, old Bordeaux....

Next up was Cosme's 2003 The Standish (Barossa), one of Australia's top shirazes. Meaty blueberries, tar and liquorice, flinty vanilla, violet and cherries on the nose. Luscious and well balanced with big, velvety tannins and a never-ending finish, but a touch fruitier and more extracted than my current preferences. I, and most of my peers, were rather ho-hum on this one tonight.

A wine that did generate a lot of discussion was Ash's 2004 Domaine l'Aiguelière Côte Rousse (Coteaux du Languedoc) - big stinky cheese notes (in a good way), spicy new leather, and slate on the nose, a delicious velvety texture with crisp fruit and a lengthy finish. I would say "Bordeaux-esque", but perhaps less polished (in my opinion) than some of the other wines tonight. I expect that will be resolved with some cellar time...

Next up was another controversial wine, Cam's 2004 no. 2/3 trio infernal (Priorat). Made from 100% carignan, this modern-styled wine showed leathery dark berries, tar, and minty alcohol. Lighter-bodied with a modest finish, I found the alcohol just too hot, but otherwise no rough edges. I have to agree with David's QPR comments on this one. Drink now.

Since nobody was scoring I declare my 1999 Pio Cesare Barolo "Ornato" the "winner" - hah, I finally won! A gorgeous nose of tar and rose petal, black pepper, and flinty blackberries. Muscular - an elegant muscular - with a very long finish, it was the first decanter emptied.

As if that weren't enough we poured Chris' 2004 René Rostaing Côte Rôtie "La Landonne" for the finale. Candy and flowers on the nose, tea and wet stones as well. Elegant, with crisp fruit and a minerally palate - a deceptively long finish, will be amazing in a few years.

I forgot to mention the 2002 Chevalier Corton, a wine that showed up hidden under Cosme's chair (insurance in case no one brought a Burgundy, I suppose - Barry could sympathize). He relented and shared with all, but I didn't take notes as I thought this was the 2005 we had recently.

I won't cover Chris' Hungarian dessert wine - it was DRY! Sorry, that's like salami for dessert. It may have been good, but I was SO not in the mood for that.

Whew! Did I say this was a great evening?

(BYO 2007 at Yoyo, BYO 2006 at Bistro l'Entrepont)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Holiday Wine Selections

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

The Holiday season is upon us, and with many thirsty guests parading through the house how will you spread Christmas cheer after Scrooge just put a lump of coal in your stocking?

This post is not about saving money on wine per se - there are many writers out there pitching inexpensive wines in these trying times. But beyond the challenge of serving buckets of wine to a hungry crowd without breaking the bank, Holiday gatherings require other important considerations:

Will your inexpensive wine taste good in a plastic wine glass?
Will it work at room temperature?
Will it pair with canapes and egg rolls, dips and cheeses, pizza slices, nuts, etc.?
And - most importantly - will it please the wine neophytes AND your snobby wine friends (especially when they know you have a fine, well-stocked cellar)?

There are no easy answers to these, but here are some thoughts on navigating these shoals:

1) Bubbles: Dry bubblies are food friendly with a variety of cuisines, and do not have to be expensive. Plus, nothing says 'party' like a glass of bubbly. I also expect that your wine snob friends will raise less of a fuss with good, inexpensive bubbles. Spanish cava tops my list for inexpensive "boules", but bubblies from the non-Champagne regions of France also offer some tremendous values (Check out Neil's blog for bubbles at a variety of prices)

2) New world and old world: Fruitier, modern-styled wines are great sipping wines and tend to be appreciated by recreational winos, but your knowledgeable friends may pass and switch to beer. I suggest trying to find a middle ground - try an old world wine maker with a more modern winemaking style, or a new world winemaker with a more traditional style. A good shopkeeper should be able to point you in the right direction, and if they look puzzled just leave (or see my list below...)

3) The "Red": Fruity Aussie Shiraz and Argentinian Malbec are all the rage, but my personal recommendation is for Cabernet Sauvignon as your red choice for the evening - easy to find, a well-chosen cab should be flavourful, reasonably versatile while and withstand the warm environment, and will probably better please both the rookies and the afficianados. A very close second would be a good Portuguese red (typically made from obscure, indigenous grapes) - these can be inexpensive, versatile and well structured, but availability for some readers may be an issue. Inexpensive Spanish wines made from Tempranillo would be a third choice.

4) The "White": Guests may pour the wine chilled, but in the heat of the party these will warm up fast so you need a versatile grape that will work at warmer temperatures. I love the versatility of Chardonnay in this setting, but I find the cheap stuff falls apart when warm. Thus, I have to go with a Sauvignon Blanc - South Africa and Chile have some nice, inexpensive SB, New Zealand will be a bit pricier, but there are some inexpensive French SB as well.

Here are some holiday picks that take into account my guidelines above, price and availability.

Cheap bubbly ideas:

Codorniu Clasico Brut Cava (Spain)
Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro Brut (as suggested by Debs) (Spain)
2004 Sieur d'Arques "La Bulle de Limoux" (a bit pricier) (France)

Cheap white ideas:

Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc (S. Africa)
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc (Chile)
"Les Jamelles" Sauvignon Blanc (France)
Domaine du Salvard Cheverny
Carmen Chardonnay (Chile) (one cheap Chard that can take the heat)

Cheap red ideas:

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)
Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)
Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)
Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Yellow Label (Australia)
Portuguese Reds (1,2)

If you are not hosting a party, note that many of these suggestions would make ideal good gifts to bring the hosts of other parties.

Feel free to post some of your own ideas for wine that works when served in bad glassware, at the wrong temperature, and paired with rather wine unfriendly foods...(or send me an email for more ideas)

And remember - drink in moderation and don't drink and drive.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

1998 Alain Paret Saint Joseph Rochecourbe

Did I mention that I like gifts? Well this was an interesting one - how did my sister get a hold of a 10 year old St-Joseph in Northern Wisconsin? And why is it in a Bordeaux bottle?

This wine, the 1998 Alain Paret St-Joseph "Rochecourbe", comes from a northern Rhone appellation known for Syrah-based (the white grapes Marsanne & Roussanne are allowed, up to 10%) reds that tend to be lighter-bodied and earlier drinking than those of its more famous neighbours, Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage. An absolutely gorgeous nose of black earth and meaty old leather, with aromas of dried strawberry, truffle, vegetal and brie highlighted by pretty violet & lavender notes and a deft use of oak. A delicate wine with crisp acid and silky tannins, very focused, clean and fresh, this could be the most food-friendly Syrah I have ever tasted. Those of you who love traditionally styled old-world wine will love this wine, and you could stick this away for a few more years as it is aging gracefully. (Neil, you think you're not a syrah fan, but this is one I know you would like...)
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: US$30 (gift)

Well, I don't have an answer to the strange bottle or how this aged St-Joseph made it to Northern Wisconsin, but a special thanks to my sister who picked out this winner because it said 'Joseph' on the label.

PS - we opened a 2003 Vieux Lazaret Cuveee Exceptionelle - riper and fruitier, a decent pour, but it paled in comparison to the 2000 vintage and tonight's Saint-Joseph.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2005 Mascaron par Ginestet

I love it when friends bring gifts of wine, especially when it is one of their personal treasures - critics and shopkeepers aren't the only ones to make great finds!

Tonight we go to Bordeaux for my first taste of the famed 2005 vintage, a gift from my good friend Eric. Eric has been raving about the 2005 Mascaron par Ginestet, and for good reason - lovely violet, currant and blackberry notes leap out of the glass, some prunes and an earthy greenness in there as well. Terrific on the palate, with really nice density, a velvety texture, juicy fruit, minerally black earth and a lingering finish. This Merlot (60%)/Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) blend is a big winner at this price point, and a reflection of just how good 2005 was for Bordeaux. Give it a short decant or stick it away for 2-3 years.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20

Price: C$17.80 (SAQ)