Sunday, September 27, 2009

White Coulliore

My in-laws went to France two years ago, and since that time they have tried a number of Languedoc reds on me, from Coulliore in particular. Tonight I thought I'd turn the tables and try a WHITE Coulliore on them...

The 2007 Les Clos de Paulilles (Collioure) is 100% Grenache blanc, and it has been some time since I last tasted one of those. An intriguing nose...lemon jelly and butterscotch, vanilla and graham cracker, flint and a hint of white flowers. All soft and fruity on the palate, it tastes of warmth and sunshine - smooth and flavourful with some decent minerality, but flabby and a bit hot - not terribly so, but just enough to be noticed.
cork. 13.5% alcohol.
Score: 16/20
Price: C$21.50 (SAQ)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2003 Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional

I just lost my camera - stolen, more accurately - and to add insult to injury I lost a number of bottle shots as well. At least my trusty blackberry was there to save a few for posterity...

The unimpressive image of the 2003 Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional above is at odds with the beauty inside this bottle. A bouquet of sour cherries, old oak/damp wood, some vanilla, currant, and subtle floral notes - later some attractive greenness, white pepper and subtle notes of allspice...aromatic and truly gorgeous. Crisp, flavourful, fruit and flowers deliver an impressively long, silky, finish without being overly tannic. Incredibly well balanced, and a catalyst for a few more purchases from this winery.
Cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$30.25 (SAQ)

(PS - new camera purchased, but a few more posts before it appears...)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Sip of Long Island: Bedell Cellars

Long Island Wine is, for the most part, a local delicacy. With just 3000 acres under vine and an annual production of 500,000 cases you won't find much wine leaving the country, and it would probably be a rare wine shop that carried any sort of selection outside of New York and the neighbouring states.

But a wedding on Shelter Island put me a stone's throw away from Long Island's North Fork wineries. I regret to inform that this was NOT a wine tour - the wife and kids made sure of that - but I did have time for one stop, and local knowledge directed me to Bedell Cellars.

I coughed up 12$ for the "Premium" Flight, and this was how it went:

The 2007 Bedell Chardonnay Reserve was steel and oak aged - oaky, buttery, ripe red apple, with some wet stones, almost caramelly on the nose. Lighter bodied, tart and pleasing, short finish. 13% alcohol, Score: 16/20

The 2007 Bedell Gallery was an interesting blend of Chardonnay (69%), Sauvignon blanc (19%), and Viognier. Fleeting floral notes on the nose, probably from the viognier, but tangy citrussy and apricot aromas dominate, some toast. Terribly well balanced, and more flavourful than the Chardonnay, delicious spicy fruit... 13% alcohol, Score: 16.5/20

Long Island is famous for its Merlot (a grape getting a lot more play at Joe's house these days...), so I wasn't going to miss Bedell's red offerings:

The 2007 "Taste" Red was a blend of Merlot (56%), Cab Sauv (25%) and Syrah. Noticeably green and earthy at first, pretty violets, cedar and a hint of dark syrah berries on the nose. A spicy palate with tasty green tannins and gooseberries, a light- to medium-bodied everyday red. 13% alcohol, Score: 16/20

A whiff of the 2006 Bedell Reseve Merlot revealed smokey, dark earth, new leather, blackberries and vanilla, maybe some charcuterie - nicely done! Gritty, dark fruit, a good balance between fruit and acid, very Bordeaux like. This tastes too young - it has the acid, tannin and fruit to keep, I would age this one. 13% alcohol, Score: 17/20

The winery's signature offering was the 2006 Musée, predominantly Merlot (75%), but with some Cab Sauv (13%) and Petit Verdot blended in. Lovely aromas of green herbs, blackberries and roses, damp earth and crisp cherries, chalky... Soft and fruity on the palate, but with dense, velvety tannins, and a nice long finish. Lush, complex and very well balanced. 13% alcohol, Score 17.5/20

Overall, the offerings were very well done across the board, even those sips I had from my wife's flight of entry-level wines (the 2007 Merlot was particularly notable as a great value).

I would not dare make any generalizations about Long Island wine based on a 2 hour stop at a single winery, but I think I can say this - nearly every wine I tasted or saw in local shops was 1% to 1.5% lower in alcohol than their California bretheren. Perhaps it is climate, or a conscious effort to be "different" from their West Coast winemaking peers, but this observation and the wines that I tasted tell me that something different is going on in Long Island - and this "different" is more in line with the kind of wine I am seeking out these days...

PS - Congrats Rob (my Napa and Sonoma partner in crime) and Ellyn!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2005 Tabernero Gran Tinto Reserve

My bro-in-law has a philosophy that if there is a wine on the shelf at the SAQ that doesn't make sense, it is probably good. Case in point - who in Montreal goes trolling around the Peruvian wine section looking for $15 Malbec/Merlot? After all, the SAQ is one of the world's largest wine buyers - it must have been good to make it onto their shelf, especially since the product profile is not an obvious sell, right?

The logic seems to fly tonight, as the 2005 Tabernero Gran Tinto Reserve (50:50 Malbec Merlot) was a pretty darn good wine, especially at this price. It started with a powerfully funky, nose - we couldn't agree on barnyardy or sour milk, but that odour blew off before we were finished the debate, and the wine opened up to reveal dark berries, black pepper, old oak and hints of vanilla. Dry, with dense berry fruit and a decent finish, it was maybe lacking acidity and almost a bit too spicy. More Malbec than Merlot, a tasty wine for my first ever Peruvian.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 15.5/20
Price: C$14.60 (SAQ)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

2003 Vray Croix de Gay

It is a rare evening when I pull two 18+ point wines from my cellar (also enjoyed this evening), but with two members of my wine group coming by for a drink I had to dig deep, and Pomerol is deep ($$$, that is). The pricing for Pomerol offerings is such that I have very few, so I was actually surprised to find this resting at the bottom of one of my Bordeaux bins.

The 2003 Chateau Vray Croix de Gay demonstrated exactly why Pomerols are so pricey, and further added to a suspicion that merlot is my new love...An absolutely gorgeous nose, brimming with rose petals and sandalwood, wild stawberries and damp forest, dark cocoa powder and leather, nuts (almonds) and plums...I could open another bottle just to smell this again. Fresh and well balanced on the palate, with a long, silky finish. A joy to drink, and a greater joy knowing I have two more bottles in my cellar.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$85 (LCBO futures)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

2004 Descendientes de J. Palacios "Villa de Corullon"

I find one of the greatest challenges is to open something for a visiting oenophile - can I find something impressive that they have not yet tasted?

I went out on a bit of a limb with this 2004 Descendientes de J. Palacios Villa de Corullón from Spain's very intriguing Bierzo region. (Well, not entirely on a limb, as I have enjoyed the wines of this maker before) Crafted from the Mencia grape, the Villa begins wild and meaty, later showing some cassis, black ink and an exotic spiciness on the nose as well...joyous! Smartly enveloping the palate...earthy, minerally, with sublime, delicate tannins and impeccable balance, this beautiful wine was still evolving, improving, as Cosme and I emptied the decanter.
cork. 14% alcohol
Score: 18+/20
Price: C$55 (SAQ)

Friday, September 04, 2009

2007 Irurtia Gewurztraminer

My brother-in-law loves to surprise me with the quirky and unexpected, so it's back to South America for an...Uruguayan Gewürz?

Pale white gold in the glass, the 2007 Irurtia Gewürztraminer shouted classic Gewürz notes of soapy flowers, followed by hints of lime rind. Clean and fresh, little acidity but some minerality to hold it together. A classic gewurtz, tasty and flavourful - I quite liked it (especially at this price), but I can't say that Gewürz has resonated with me of late.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 14.5/20
Price: C$13.00 (SAQ)