Thursday, October 29, 2009

2007 Terra di Corsica Nielluccio-Syrah

Nielluccio? Ok, I thought I had discovered something new, but this is in fact the Corsican name for Sangiovese. Maybe the wine will be a more exciting discovery?

The 2007 Terra di Corsica Nielluccio-Syrah was another quirky gift from my brother-in-law. Leathery, earthy, dark berry fruit on the nose, some pepper and chalk...pretty good. Rather undistinguished on the palate, with a finish that lasted nanoseconds, but nothing wrong with this - I'd recommend you pick up the Gabbiano instead for a Sangiovese fix (same price).
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 15.5/20
Price: C$14.60 (SAQ) for the 2008

Sunday, October 25, 2009

2003 Chateau D'Armailhac

This was another treasure from my 2003 Bordeaux futures order. For a wine of this pedigree, a Fifth Growth from the Rothschild empire, I would normally have waited a few more years, but this particular bottle had a cork pressing against the foil so I was worried about leaving this one for a long period of time. Besides, most of my 2003 tastings have indicated this is a vintage that is now hitting its stride.

The 2003 Chateau D'Armailhac (Pauillac) showed its pedigree with a gorgeous nose - spicy, damp black earth and green ferns, liquorice, hazelnuts and wet coffee grounds, blackberries and very, very violet...subtle, but incredibly complex. Light, fresh, and a touch bitter on the palate with suprisingly green tannins for this vintage. A nice long finish envelops the tongue in a velvety carpet of cherry tannins and nice, subtle fruit. A touch unbalanced at first taste, but opening nicely over evening - should age well, I'll try again in 2-3 years.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$54 (LCBO)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2007 Dashe Zinfandel

This Zin took a long, circuitous, route to get to Montreal, accompanying my in-laws on a cross-North America driving tour (with a stop in Sonoma, of course). The lengths they would go to guilt me into drinking Zin...

The 2007 Dashe Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel (Alexander Valley) was pretty darn good - leathery blueberries, damp earth, then some white pepper and rose petals. Thick, hot blueberries and (modest) silky tannins coat the palate - this is big jammy fruit. Rather delicious for the style, just shy of the finesse I've found in the best Zins.
cork. 14.7% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: gift

Saturday, October 17, 2009

White Burgundy Blues

One thing that drives me crazy about my wine group is just how difficult it is to get them to sit down and taste white wines. After twisting their arms I finally got them to agree to a white wine evening and it was fabulous. Despite this, it has taken me two years to get the gang to agree to another white tasting and unfortunately this was less successful...

But it SHOULD have been a success - a bunch of winos with reasonable wine budgets were tasked to find some White Burgundies (my idea), but somewhere between idea and execution it flopped.

This was absolutely no fault of the host - Chris put on a tremendous spread of aquatic delicacies, so incredible that we saw very little of him that evening as he was continuously shuttling between the bbq and the table, serving up steamed fish and grilled seafood - truly stunning, over the top decadent, actually.

But the disappointment was the wine, a rarity in my group tastings. There were simply no "wow" moments, as wine after wine went from pretty good to ho-hum...

Interestingly, tonight's flight of wines included two of EXACTLY the same wine, and two of the same wine but different vintages - here are my notes:

The crowd favourite was Ash's 2005 Domaine Cordier Juliette la Grande from Pouilly-Fuise, definitely not the appellation I expected to win. Crisp apples, white flowers, pear and a hint of limes on the nose, flavourful and crisp, minerally and focused on the palate. Score: 17.5/20

Ok, so I threw in a non-Burgundy "surprise", and my 2005 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay ranked a surprising second place in this flight of pricey Burgundies. Woody, citrussy and a some cheesey notes, but absolutely impeccable on the palate, with acid, minerals and fruit in near perfect harmony. Great balance, a tremendous finish, this wine is sooo underpriced. Score: 18/20

Saving our tasters from embarrassment, the third and fourth place wines (brought by Cam and Chris) were in fact the same and scored nearly identically by most tasters. The 2006 Bouchard Pere et Fils Meursault "Le Porusot" was buttery apples, white flowers and a subtle "green-ness" on the nose, soft and creamy on the palate with good acidity, nearly perfect balance. This was the kind of wine I thought we'd see more of tonight. Score: 17/20

Sticking to the theme, my other wine was a Chablis. But my 2006 Moreau et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir underperformed where I thought it would show. Citrus and flowers with some expected apple notes, incredibly finessed and well structured - firm, minerally, but with nice fruit and a very long finish. More controversial (scores all over the place), but my style of Chablis. Score: 17.5/20

Next was Pramod's 2003 Louis Jadot Meursault Genevrières - it started ok, with pretty caramel apples and green grass, but it was awkward and flat on the palate - tasty on another evening, but surrounded by too many great wines today. Score: 16.5/20

Interestingly, the last place wine was the 2002 Domaine Cordier Juliette la Grande, an older vintage of our first place wine. Very intriguing on the nose - almost Sauternes-like, with caramel and cooked fruit, dried apricots and floral notes. Unfortunately it had faded on the palate and was soft and unfocused - very different from the other wines. A wine that seemed past its prime, but it struck me as a wine that was probably VERY good in its prime. Score: 16/20

Personally, my disappointment was with the concentration of the wines amongst a few vineyards - I just don't feel like we captured the essence of white Burgundy today. But even more disappointing is the knowledge that it could be a VERY long time before I get the gang to agree to another white wine tasting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gracefully Aging Gruner: 2006 Hopler

I only recently (past 3 years) set aside a few whites for aging, so these are just starting to come out of my cellar. Some Chablis, white Rioja, German Rieslings, and tonight's Grüner Veltliner - no rhyme or reason, just wherever my (infinite) curiousity took me.

So, does aging improve your Gruner? Too early to tell - the 2006 Höpler Grüner Veltliner welcomed with a nose of freshly cut apples, a hint of white flowers, some minerality and creamy custard later but pretty simple overall. An initial impression of softness on the palate is misleading, hiding its firm acidic structure and mouthfull of juicy apples - ripe and crisp, with a notable minerality. That acid and minerality points to continued improvements with cellar time, but it is too early to see this improvement.
plastic cork. 11.5% alcohol
Score: 16/20
Price: C$22 (Opimian)

Friday, October 09, 2009

2003 in Bordeaux: du Tertre and Lagrange

My last post featured wines from the uncelebrated, but uncontroversial, 1999 vintage. Tonight we go to the left bank to taste some wines from the more controversial 2003 vintage. According to Stephen Brook's excellent "The Complete Bordeaux", 2003 was "...a year of extremes." Extreme heat led to early veraison, early picking, and yields were low. Generally speaking, the red wines of this vintage are supposed to tend towards more fruit, higher alcohol and lower in acidity, leading to significantly divergent takes on the vintage by different critics. From my tastings of '03, this vintage was not dramatically fruity, but I do find the acidity low and the aging potential seems more limited vs. other vintages. On the plus side, the '03s tend to be approachable in their youth - drink these while your 2000s are sleeping away in the cellar.

The 2003 Chateau Lagrange (St-Julien) showed substantially more dark berry fruit (very, very black curranty) on the nose, slate and nuts in support. Smooth, elegant, with soft, ample, tannins and a nice long finish, but a touch of that summer heat coming through.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$55 (LCBO)

For the 2003 Chateau du Tertre (Margaux) a nose of dark, burnt wood, wet stones, pepper and fresh vanilla beans introduced a palate of crisp cherry fruit and bitter green (in a good way) held firm by stoney minerality - better structured, with a lengthy finish, this Margaux needs some cellar time to come together and will probably be the better of the two.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$49 (LCBO)

Monday, October 05, 2009

1999 in Bordeaux: a Pessac Leognan and a St-Emilion

When I first started collecting the wines of Bordeaux I lived for the vintage reports. The problem is that vintage reports are an overall, or "average", view of mother nature's gifts over a broad geography. When you use these reports for a large region like Bordeaux, you are bound to pick up few clunkers in a great vintage and a few gems in an "off" vintage - vintage reports are pretty good guide, but you can never be to sure.

For example, tonight's two wines were excellent, despite coming from a difficult 1999 vintage that was not notable for late season rains and rot that apparently plagued many producers.

Tasted here before (1,2), the 1999 Chateau Carbonnieux (Pessac Leognan) served up musty, woodsy, black cherries, later rewarding us with some basil, thyme and pencil shavings. Blinded I was thinking it was the St-Emilion - soft and velvety smooth...its elegance nearly masking an enduring finish of wet, black earth. Deliciously Bordeaux.
cork. 12.5% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$65 (SAQ)

On my right was another repeat, the 1999 Moulin St-Georges (St-Emilion). A glassful of toasty new oak, old leather and black cherries to sniff, a chameleon as it shifted and changed over the evening. Spicy, crisp blackberries on the palate over substantial tannins, which presented this offering as a touch more awkward. Greater presence and complexity, but a touch rougher around the edges - in a very good way.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$65 (LCBO)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2006 Placet

Over the past two or three years I started to put a few whites aside in my cellar for aging - mostly German whites and a few Chablis, but I have also set aside some oddities as an experiment.

I wouldn't think to age a white Rioja, but a tasting with Marcus gave me the idea to cellar this 2006 Palacios Remondo Placet. A gorgeous nose of creamy golden butter, white flowers, hints of citrus, banana and papaya, citrus peel, some grassy woodsy notes. The beauty continues on the palate, complex, flavourful and tremendously well balanced, with a soft, luscious finish. While this is not yet "old", it is aging well and I have one more bottle for a future redo
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$29.95 (SAQ)