Tuesday, April 29, 2008


OK, this is the ugliest "cork" that I've ever seen. Gimme a scewtop instead!!
The wine this plastic abomination sealed was the Mazzei, Poggio alla Badiola, Toscana, 2003. Coriander seeds on the nose, the palate screams "I am Italian"....boysenberries, iodine, meat, chewy tannins...a very nice mouthful. This is so much better than the Spanish wine with the fancy packaging on my last post. A "Good" wine, well worth the $16 or so it cost. Try it out, if you like old school Italian, you'll like this.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


When you walk into a wine shop without a pre-determined shopping list, you end up doing a lot of guessing...hopefully educated guessing!! You look at the region, the producer, the varietal, the label for ageing and tasting notes...and hopefully get something good, especially if it's expensive.
Today's wine (Emina, Ribera del Duero, 2003) is from an area in Spain that I generally like. The label looks like they spend some money on marketing and says that it is aged in a mixture of French and American oak for 12 months. On the nose it is promising with black fruit and smoky bacon notes. So far, so good. Unfortunately, once in the mouth it is surprisingly light - especially for that hot 2003 growing season - but initially lively. The liveliness doesn't last, though, the fruit finishes dull, like an overripe almost rotting black plum. This wine couldn't even stand up to a pork chop. And the next day it was almost undrinkable. This is an "OK" wine, don't waste your Saturday night with it. Definitely not worth the $20 it cost.
Oh well, at least this little critter enjoyed it - he fell in about 10 seconds after I took the picture - don't worry, I rescued him before he drowned, wouldn't want to drown him in this plonk...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Palate Shock

My mouth took a beating on Saturday night with one heavyweight wine after another. It started with a Lebanese effort, the Chateau Kekfraya, Compte de M, 2001. Intense cassis nose with exotic spice, this is a bright fruit bomb that is so intense it "prickles" the mouth. The tannins are easygoing and there is a seam of tobacco to add some complexity. A "good" wine. No value judgement on this wine, I don't know how much it cost, so I can't tell you if I'd buy another at the going price.
Next up was the Rosemount Estate, Mountain Blue, Shiraz/Cabernet, Mudgee, 2001. I had this wine last year and thought it was a "wow". This time around, I got berries, dark chocolate and a hint of beef bouillon on the nose. Full bodied, a balanced wine with black fruit and meat. I rated this bottle as "good", was less impressed than last year. No value judgment either.
Two wines of different vintages from the same vineyard went head to head next. The wine in question was the Miguel Torres, Manso de Velasco, Viejas Vinas. The 1998 was a dirty, beefy, brawny wine with only hints of dark black fruit. Tasted very old world even though it was from Chile. It manages a "good" rating. The 2004 was, as expected, fresher with a bit of a candied nose. Spicy, violets with some beefy notes on the palate. "Good". I prefer my wines in between these styles, so, for a lark, I did the unthinkable - I blended them myself in the glass. The result was not too bad!! Anyways, these wines both cost about $40 a bottle, you can find better value elsewhere.
Last up and drunk with dinner were two Spanish wines. I'll talk about the one I drank most, the Vina Pedrosa, Ribero del Duero, Reserva, 2001. Very much in the old Spanish style, this was my favourite wine of the night. A nose of vanilla, oak and fruit that goes on and on. Full bodied, a good blend of oak and fruit on the palate also. A good wine also, so nothing tonight hit the "wow" level.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


No posts for a month because, well, I've drunk NO wine for a month. Why, you might ask? If you want to lose weight and go on the wagon, go to Uganda. As you might guess, wine is not a staple over there. In fact, it is pretty hard to find outside of Kampala - you can get it in the fancier restaurants but it is usually terribly overpriced South African plonk (for example, an $8 - in Canada - bottle of Obikawa listed for over $40 at the Nile Safari resort). And I refuse to buy wine that is marked up like that. At least the beer there is good (especially Nile Special from Jinja). By the way, that picture above is in Africa - on Mount Stanley at 16,000 feet. This is the highest peak in the Rwenzori Mountains, the only glaciated true mountain range in Africa (also known as the Mountains of the Moon). If you're interested, check out: http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/212349/mt-stanley.html
Anyway, I digress. To ease my rusty palate back into action we cracked a few bottles of Malbec from Argentina. The Nieto Sentiner, Reserva, Malbec, 2005 is from Mendoza. Crushed violets on the nose, it is bright and acidic with fresh pomegranate fruit on the palate. Lively and medium bodied, it cut through a fatty steak easily. A good wine, worth the $14.
I tried the Bodegas del Fin del Mundo, Reserva, Malbec, Patagonia, 2004 last year and found it a dense brooding wine but the fruit was hiding. Well, the fruit has now come out to play - chunky black berries - this remains an intense, highly extracted wine for the price - a measly $13 a bottle. A good wine, and a steal. Buy it all. Cheers!!.