Friday, November 28, 2008


Okay, I'm baaaack!! Had an exhausting trip to Mendoza to check out the wine and vine. Gorgeous weather, sunny and 85-90F every day. The locals are super nice people as well. This is Hubert, head winemaker at Bodegas Weinert, one of the oldest and biggest bodegas in Mendoza. He asked what I wanted to drink, so naturally I replied..."impress me". Off he loped, bringing back a dusty old bottle. He asked us to guess the grape and year...I got the grape wrong (cab, merlot and malbec blend) but was only off by a year on the vintage - 1994. A dirty but complex nose, this was remarkably fresh on the palate despite it's age. Full throttle and teeth staining with preserved fruit and fungal mix - tannic, but in a good way. Wow. He has only 5,000 bottles of this left (actually, 4,999 now) and figures this would retail for $100-150 if he re-releases it. It won a gold medal in Paris years ago. Wow.
Next up was a 2002 tempranillo, which won't be released; he made it for a private party except the bum didn't pay his bills, so he's stuck with 10,000 bottles of it (labelled and everything). This was super smooth and silky following the '94 blend served first. Good stuff, wish I could buy the lot and sell it up here (the only problem - the wine can't be shipped without re-labelling it, and that would be messy - it's not done often!). Readers, any ideas, let me know....

This guy is cleaning out the tartrates and tannins that have caked onto the aging tonels. Weinert ages all it's wine in wood, the majority old and seasoned.

Here's a new vineyard being planted. This will take 5 years to get into full production. Yields in this desert climate can hit 20,000kg/hectare (just turn on the water taps from a huge underground aquifier under the Mendoza vineyard/farm land and you can grow your yields proportionately; alternatively, you can "starve" them of water and lower your yields to produce concentrated high end wine - all you wineries in countries that are slaves to their weather must be jealous!!!).Okay, what else did we drink down there? Notable favourites were Septima, Septima Dia, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005; Ruca Malin Malbec 2005 & Cabernet Sauvignon 2005; Salentein Syrah Roble 2002; Mendel Malbec 2006; Catena Zapata, Angelica Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Lagarde Malbec 2006, Cabernet 2006 & Syrah 2006; and Obra Prima, Malbec reserve, 2005. One word of warning - prices are going up like crazy down there. The bargain but sooo tasty steak (try the bife chorizo, a 20 ounce monster) is now $15 USD instead of $8, and the wine in restaurants has gone up so much that you can no longer just ask for the best bottle in the house - you have to look at the wine list and actually choose based on price:quality. A great meal for three with 2 good bottles of wine still costs only $100 USD total, though!Cheers!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Five Stars

Where to start? The Treana, Paso Robles, 2004 has an explosive nose of violets and stewed plums. Full bodied, rich and opulent style. Oaked plums backed by smooth tannins and a touch of licorice. Wow. Treana usually sells for just over $40 in Canada.
Completely opposite is the old world Travaglini, Gattinara, 2003 from northern Italy. This got a "91" in Wine Spectator but we initially wondered why...this old style nebbiolo is see-through in the glass and initially smelt of an old wooden barrel, but became perfumed with lots of time in a decanter. Elegant style but still surprisingly chewy. Can't quite place the fruit. This really evolves and intrigues with a few hours of decanting. Wow? maybe in 5 years or so.... This retails for $30.
The Bodega Monteviejo, Lindaflor, Petite Fleur, Mendoza, 2004 is classic malbec. Full bodied, pomegranates, racy. Chalky. Good stuff, not quite a wow. $26.
One step up is the Altavista, Alto, 2003 which is also from Argentina. Very floral nose. Full bodied but classy with pomegranates and red berries. Smooooth. The flavours change subtly as you swirl it in your mouth. Wow, but make sure you decant it and WAIT. A tad pricy at $60.
Last but certainly not least is a real bruiser - the Tait, Basket Pressed Shiraz, 2001 from the Barossa valley in Australia. Black in the glass with the most aromatic nose of the 5 wines tasted here, it is a rich full bodied wine full of cooked berries, dark plums, tar and licorice. Well integrated tannins. This is from the winery that makes a wine called the "Ballbuster" - this one is certainly in that league. Wow. I don't know the retail of this particular wine, but a quick google yields starting price of $30 in the USA (which means at least $50 in Canada).
Cheers, and I hope you all have a wine night like this soon!!