Monday, August 31, 2009

2007 Quinta dos Roques Vinho Tinto

Bought on account of a tremendous experience with the higher end "Reserve" bottling (notes soon) from this Portuguese estate, this entry level red was equally impressive.

The 2007 Quinta dos Roques Vinho Tinto (Da0), bright cherry red in the glass and with so much going on on the nose - spicy, cedary and earthy to start, some old leather, tart blackberries, and herbal/medicinal notes in the backstage. Fresh and spicy on the palate, excellent balance between the fruit, tannins, and acidity. Silky textured with a pleasing finish, but some heat showing later. No matter - seriously good juice at this price.
Cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$15.90 (SAQ)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celebrating with a 2002 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

No matter how often I hear that Champagne is NOT just for special occasions, I ALWAYS save Champagne for special occasions. Cava - now that's an everyday wine - but not Champagne. This bottle was opened to celebrate my first Olympic distance triathlon (is it wrong to celebrate athletic achievement with alcohol?).

The 2002 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, a gift from my wife, was rather noteworthy for being...well not noteworthy. Classic buttery, lemony, croissant...minerally, with a hint of white flowers. A soft, creamy, mousse and delicately textured, some crisp lemon and bitters. Great persistency, but rather ho-hum for being so technically correct and emotionally flat. Maybe it was just a mood thing.
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 16/20

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obscure Wine Appellations: 2007 Domaine des Ballandors Quincy

Surely a Loire appellation, but what grape? Pondering this, I opened it as an apertif rather than mistakenly serve a Chenin Blanc when a Sauvignon Blanc was called for...

The 2007 Domaine des Ballandors (Quincy) was fresh and joyful on the nose, some soapy white flowers at first, later fading to pink grapefruit...some minerality as well. On the palate a near perfect balance of fruit and acidity for a Sauvignon Blanc, and a fine-grain minerality and bitter citrus rind. Delicious, but should be at this price.
Cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$21.25 (SAQ)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cheap Rosés for Breast Cancer - A Guest Blog from Joe’s Wife

I am honoured that Joe has allowed me a guest-blog spot, albeit to describe wines in which he has very little interest. My topic is the cheap rosé wines available in grocery stores and depanneurs (Quebecoise for “corner-stores”) throughout Quebec.

Many wine gourmands may disagree, but I believe that rosé wines have their place - I find a well-chilled rosé particularly refreshing on a hot summer day, either on its own or while enjoying a plate of barbequed chicken or shrimp.

What caught my eye in the grocery store last week was a series of cheap, depanneur rosés marked with the pink ribbon synonymous with breast cancer awareness. On closer examination, I discovered that Vincor Quebec, the largest distributor of wines in Quebec, is donating money to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation for every bottle of rosé with a pink petal purchased. A detailed search of Vincor Quebec’s website as well as the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation failed to uncover exactly how much will be donated per bottle purchased, however Vincor has pledged to raise $150,000 in 2009.

So, with thoughts of Joe’s mother who died of breast cancer, and my grandmother and cousin who where/are breast cancer survivors, I decided to drink some pink petal rosés and write a 2-part guest-blog piece reviewing these wines.

I randomly – and by randomly I mean that I picked based on the name and graphics displayed on the label - picked 3 rosés to taste from the Metro grocery store. All were between $10 and $12 per bottle. (Interestingly none of the cheap pink petal rosés indicate the vintage year.)

Caletta Vineyards Seleccion Espania: Of the three wines, this one had a more complex nose that was sweet, smelling of plum, cherry coughdrops, and roses. It was pleasantly sweet on the palate, with a hint of cherries. Not unexpected from a cheap rosé, it had very little length. However, it was very drinkable and matched well a dinner of barbequed chicken.
cork: 12% alcohol

Elle Rosé de France: Admittedly, I had been staring at the picture of the women’s eyes on this bottle for weeks, wanting to buy it. Like the Mona Lisa, they seemed to follow me wherever I went. However, the actual wine was not as intriguing as the image. On the nose, this wine was citrussy, reminding me of grapefruit, and slightly minty. Upon tasting, it was crisp, dry and acidic. It was easy-drinking on a warm evening, but not overly exciting.
Cork: 12% alcohol

Champs Elysées Paris, Rosé de France: This wine smelled of lemons and raspberries. Initially, I enjoyed the fresh, citrusy taste, however it left a slight bitter after taste on the back of my tongue afterward.
Cork: 12% alcohol

*Disclaimer: Prior to each tasting, I popped a pre-emptive antacid to prevent heartburn, which I believe added to my enjoyment of the wines. In addition, all rosés were well-chilled and were tasted with food.

(Editorial. With my good buddy Lloyd shirking his official guest blogger duties I have been reduced to pink charity wine! Seriously, my wife has a tremendous palate and has always been welcome to guest-blog - I didn't think she knew I had a website. The antacid aperitif is real, and more effective than the H2-chaser.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

2006 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine

Cabernet Franc Ice first thought is "oops, nobody knew what to do with the poor Cab Franc, so they left it in the field a little too long." Or maybe it was not an oversight, just a marketing gimmick - the Canadian answer to Sparkling Shiraz? Ok, I was a bit suspicious, but I have tasted some great Henry of Pelham white wines so I went in open minded.

Actually, I loved this 2006 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine - raspberry and botrytis notes, apricots, wild flowers and a hint of vanilla...kind of Sauternes-ish, but fruitier. Sweet and appley but not cloying, nicely balanced...thinking Sauternes again, but with a firmer acidity and minerally backbone. A very tasty gift from my brother and sister-in-law (you are too kind), but I would actually pay for this one again.
cork. 9.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Cost: gift

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2007 CataMayor Reserva Viognier

I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for odd vinous pleasures, so much so that tonight's Uruguayan Viognier seems rather...pedestrian?

Fortunately, this wine experiment turned out rather well. The 2007 CataMayor Reserva (Bodegas Castillo Viejo) sported classic Viognier notes, with soapy white flower finding some minerally support. A soft, luscious palate with tasty flavours of lime rind, it started thin at first, but had good balance and really opened up as it warmed from up. Modest, but pleasing - a great Viognier at this price.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 15.5/20
Price: C$14.60 (SAQ)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mini Vertical #12: 1996 and 1999 Chateau Dauzan La Vergne

My father-in-law has been a member of the Opimian Society for many years, Canada's largest, and longest-running, wine club. Chateau Pique Segue, a Bergerac estate, has been a long-time supplier to the Opimian, and recently offered some older vintages of its Dauzan La Vergne label to the society - and some of these found their way into my cellar when my in-laws sold their house :)

Visually older, with more brick colouring at the edges, the 1996 Chateau Dauzan la Vergne (Cotes de Bergerac) showed musty, cooked fruit (cherries), and green vegetal notes at first, later some almonds, cheese rind, then some black ash and mushrooms. Thin, light on the palate, green and tart, nutty, with a shorter finish than the 1999 below. Fairly complex, with a late flowering complexity on the nose...intriguing, but a touch rough, edgy, unbalanced. But this Bordeaux lookalike was drinking surprisingly well after three hours in the decanter.
Score: 16.5/20

The 1999 Chateau Dauzan la Vergne (Bergerac) was a deeper cherry red in the glass. Simpler, with a nose of musty undergrowth, some spice and old leather, but flatter than the 1996. A palate of peppery wet stones, both smoother and harsher at the same time, but becoming velvety over the evening. A riper, softer and more modest finish.
Score: 16/20

Both were quite oaky, heavy, and I have to admit that I am surprised how much time these old wines from "lesser" appellations needed to open up. I am not sure how much these cost, but I am guessing these present good values vs. true Bordeaux. And I wonder why these are from two different appellations?

(NOTE: Some healthy competition has been injected into the Canadian wine market with the recent creation of the Hemispheres Wine Guild, which I will address in a future post).

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Seaview Sparkling Shiraz

Ok, what the heck is this? Yes, I know sparkling Shiraz is not NEW. Could it be that Joe is so un-cool that he never tried one or these, or could it be that I am so horribly snobbish that I would never buy a sparkling Shiraz? I will not answer that question right now, but I still want to know: what the heck did they do to my Shiraz?!

The Seaview Sparkling Shiraz was a tantalizing purple-y colour with a pinkish foam, but there was no doubt on the nose that this wine was a Shiraz - Aussie Shiraz. But those vanilla, dark berry and violet notes were no preparation for the shocking interaction of big fruit, big tannins and foam on the palate. Big, soft, fruity bubbles, a surprisingly fine tannic structure - I couldn't decide whether I wanted the bubbles to disappear and the wine to warm to reveal the Shiraz, or the tannins and big fruit to disappear and reveal a bubbly. No need to decide - the bubbles faded fast and it became a regular Shiraz, tasty but modest. A clever novelty from the marketing department.
cork. 13% alchol
Score: 14/20
Price: gift

Monday, August 03, 2009

2006 Tait "The Ball Buster"

Gimmicky names are a turn off for me, so when I was gifted this 2006 Tait "The Ball Buster" I kinda stuck it away in the cellar and forgot about it. A mistake, actually. This Barossa (78% Shiraz, 12% Cab, 10% Merlot) lived up to its name, with a big nose of blackberries, violets, leafy tobacco, some slate and very toasty oak. A big wallop of very spicy, smokey, big cherry fruit, but with some complexity and velvety tannins that held it together quite nicely - even that massive alcohol level was not overly obtrusive. Not everyone's cup of tea, but a thoroughly well-made, modern-styled, Aussie Shiraz if that is what you seek.
screw top. 15.7% alcohol
Score: 17/20 Price: gift