Friday, February 22, 2008


Don't you love shopping when the new releases come in? I do, but I dread the bill at the end. This was made a little better this month as Vintages had a wee sale, I guess to clear some of their warehouse space for spring arrivals. Hey, if it's any good, 20% off is nothing to sneeze at (although 50% off would bring it in line with the civilized world).
Soooo, what to open? This is important, because if the first few that get sampled are any good, I can go back and stock up before they're cleared out.
I felt like a big wine, so I went for the Aussie Cab. I was hoping that the Leconfield, Coonawarra, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was better than earlier vintages which have been hit and miss. It's a shame, because the Coonawarra terroir is known for favouring Cabernet Sauvignon. This one opens with an initial whiff of chalk but cassis and hints of cedar quickly waft up. On the palate, this is classic Cab - cassis that bathes your mouth, even becomes a little tart on the finish just like my mom's good blackberry pie (that hasn't been sweetened too much!!). There are dusty tannins to back it up as well. This is no one-dimensional fruit bomb. All in all, a "good" wine, but it needs some time as it feels a little awkward right now. So, throw it in the cellar for a couple of years or decant it for a couple of hours. Price is OK for what it is, on sale for $24.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Deep Freeze

What's that vino doing in the freezer, you ask? I learned this little trick a while ago, although it went against my intuition. They tell us that you've got to store wine at a constant temperature in order to let it age gracefully without spoiling. However, what we're doing here is just keeping it the way it was for a few days or weeks in stasis....this is great if you are only having a glass or two and won't drink the rest for a while. And it works, it's as good as it was when you re-cork it and stick it in the freezer! To revive it, just bathe it in lukewarm water for half an hour or so - bingo, ready to drink.
Tonight's wine has one of those silly labeling-marketing statements on it's label..."winemaker's choice". Well, if I was a winemaker, I'd want to put this moniker on a better juice. The Vina Casablanca, El Bosque, Winemaker's choice, Syrah, 2005 has a shy nose followed by a medium bodied spicy, bright wine with blackcurrants mixed with bit of beefiness. Nothing wrong with it, but it's a somewhat lightweight syrah, rating just "OK". Not worth the $16.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Plain Jane

Pretty boring wine week. The Geyser Peak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2002 (from California) I thought might be good - their reserve wines are usually pretty good. This one starts out OK - classic cab blackberries with rough tannins, pretty full bodied and a moderately long finish. Blinded I might have called it "old world" (??is that an insult or a compliment!). The more time it spent airing out, the more the yummy blackberry fruit became apparent. By the next day it was actually quite nice. A "good" wine, drink it with meat. No reason to buy any more at $20 a pop.
The Olsen, Merlot, Margaret River, 2004 did the opposite. Much fleshier than the Geyser at first (it tasted rather like a Chilean Red) it became weedier and more vegetal with glass time. After 4 hours it actually became unpleasant. Overall, I guess it's "OK", absolutely no reason to buy any more at $18.
Ho-hum. Time for a good wine night sometime soon....

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Tried 3 wines while out in BC last week. Turns out they are all from the same grape - Shyraz!! I got the name from a typo on the back label of one of the wines (the Argentine one), but it's actually not a bad moniker given the shiraz/syrah conundrum.
So, lets start with the Argentine - the Finca Flichman, Gestos, 2006 "Shyraz" was a bit of a disappointment. They blend shiraz from two zones, the higher Tupungato (a newer viticultural region in Mendoza) and the lower, more established Barrancas region. It's a young violet purple colour. The nose was initially off-putting - candyish bubblegum. Oh oh, I thought, but it blows off with time. Bright damson plums, slightly gritty mouthfeel, medium bodied - a simple, "OK" wine and disappointing. Way overpriced at $18.

I whipped across the border into Washington state one day to snowboard the 40 fresh centimetres of snow at Mt. Baker. On the way home I popped into a little shop for some coffee and saw a bottle of the Jacob's Creek, Reserve Shiraz, 2004 on the shelf. Yes, the one that got a "91" in the Wine Spectator. The price tag read $9.99. Worth picking up? Duh!! This sells for $19 in Quebec and $21 in BC. So, one hour later it was breathing in front of me along with some chili. Cassis on the nose, pure fruit palate supported by seamless tannins and a touch of black pepper. Medium-full bodied. No hint of complexity from barrel aging (something I like) limits it to a "good" rating, don't see how it got a "91", unless there's some bottle variation (which wouldn't surprise me - they make a crapload of this stuff). Well worth $10, but not $21.

Ok, last up is the best of the three. The Bridlewood, Syrah, Central Coast, 2004 is from California. By far the most complex of these wines, it has plums on the nose, a slick, smooth mouthfeel, black fruit with meat and leather notes. Interesting that they chose to call it "syrah", I think they were aiming for Rhone style rather than new world This is good stuff. Priced OK at $18...if I could get it for $9.99, I'd buy a trunk full!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tupungato Tempranillo

Tempranillo is the "signature" grape of Spain and is not commonly seen from other regions. It can make superb, age worthy wines - such as those from Ribera del Duero, Rioja and other Spanish appelations - that rival wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon. This Argentinian Tempranillo came to my attention recently and the price was right. The Finca El Retiro, Reserva Especial, Tempranillo, Tupungato 2004 costs a measly $15. For this you get a wine made from 80 year old vines!!. Fresh violets on the nose, the initial attack is rather dull, but on the mid palate there is clean fruit with hints of licorice leading into a pretty reasonable finish. This is all backed up by moderate tannins.
It softened up with time and would benefit from decanting. It's going to be interesting to try in a couple of years.
A "good" wine and a really good effort for the price...I bought six more!