Saturday, August 11, 2007


Why oh why do they make wines like this? And why do the marketing gurus keep fooling us with their rhetoric?
Case in point: The Flagstone, Dragon Tree 2005 from South Africa is touted as the "holy grail" of Cape reds for it's winemaker (I won't embarrass him by giving you his name) and is a blend of 6 grapes that apparently changes each year. The wine shop (the LCBO) calls it a "rich red that features smoky plum, blackberry, spice, tobacco, leather and vanilla characteristics" and their critic rated it highly and recommended it as a sipper. The packaging is catchy and fancy with a ritzy screwtop and an artsy label.
Well, where do I start? This wine is just not very good. Deep colour, yes, aromatic nose, yes (I thought it was a cab by it's nose), but after this it is all downhill. It is quite tart, almost sour on the palate - very little fruit or depth. It was just not very enjoyable. I even considered pouring it down the sink. So, I oscillated between calling it "crap" or just "OK". Perhaps the 6 grape blend is more of "we have x, y and z left, lets throw it in a fancy bottle with a, b and c and let the marketing monster make us some money..."
But it is a waste of money even at only $16 per bottle.
Beware of the "marketing monster"!!!

HA!! speak of the devil - Koko just emailed me a link that alludes to the marketing monster doing his trick....
you gotta cut thru this BS and call it as you see it.....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back To Bordeaux

At last!! I was lucky enough to have my magnanimous sister-in-law allow me to share in a bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion, 1986 that I had been storing for her for over 5 years (while she was living in that wine hotbed, Saudi Arabia. Can you believe there are people who think wine is evil?). Anyways, I love Bordeaux and even better I love good, old Bordeaux, so I was looking forward to it. We went to a great little BYOB bistro called Les Infideles (quite fitting since we are wine drinking infidels and this wine ended up in Montreal because it couldn't travel to the middle east...) and I matched the wine to a wild mushroom tart followed by Nunavik caribou with a cassis reduction sauce. mmmmmmmmm.
The waiter had trouble getting the cork out - it was quite dry but hadn't leaked. I took over and went behind the counter (to avoid a spectacle) and eased the cork out bit by bit without getting any in the wine), then decanted it.
Well, what can I say. Brick in the glass as expected, with a complex smokey, cedar-cigar box nose, followed by an elegant palate that was more vegetal than fruit driven. It opened up with time, becoming seductively more harmonious with still present firm but supple tannins. Medium bodied with a long finish. In 1986 this wine was 66% Cabernet Franc. It was not one of those WOW wines that whack you on the head, but was more of a "keep filling me up, this is gooood...." wines. Robby Parker gave this a "93" back in 1991. As for value, this had to the bargain of the century - it cost my sis-in-law a whole 3 pounds (about 7 bucks) when she bought it back in the days she worked for a wine importing agency. Just don't expect to get it for this price again - a quick check puts it at about $600 at auction....
The second wine we opened was also a St. Emilion, but much younger by choice - I wanted to contrast the two. The Chateau Pipeau, St. Emilion, 2000 was bought as a future in 2001. It was much darker in the glass, fruitier on the nose and more full bodied than the Cheval Blanc. Moderately tannic (dries the mouth right out) it tastes like an English summer pudding (thats berries for you non-brits). Good stuff, but not a wow wine. Overpriced as usual, but you can't get away from that in good Bordeaux.
Note to myself: suck it up, pay the price, and buy (ie. drink!) more Bordeaux!!!