Friday, December 26, 2008

The Marquess and Carmen

Decided to contrast a couple of vintages of Carmen Reserve Syrah with a Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Syrah (don't worry, we didn't eat the gingerbread cookies with the wine!). The 2002 Carmen had a raspberry-cranberry nose and was medium bodied in the mouth, bursting with raspberry fruit. Bright and intense. Relativley long finish. Good wine, but third place. The Marques 2004 was darker in the glass than the Carmen '02 with a more subtle nose of black fruit; on the palate it was more elegant and refined with blackberries mixed with leather. This wine is short-term aging well, smoothing out - I last had it about a year ago. Good for second place. The 2004 Carmen had a meaty nose and the fullest body of these three. Structured and dense with blackberry, iodine and meat. Long finish. Wow wine and my favourite of the three. All three of these wines are bargains at $20 each.
To finish off the night I popped an oddity (at least for Canadians) - true vintage style Australian port. This one has been in the cellar for 12 years. The Angove's, Premium Vintage Port, 1993 is turning into a tawny style in the bottle. It has become almost translucent brick in colour with a thick, luscious, sweet, caramel-toffee-raisin flavour profile. Good stuff - and a bargain alternative to the ever increasingly expensive "real" Port. Try sticking some Aussie "port" away for 10 years to experiment with.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stompin' Good

"Estampa" is Spanish for "stamp" which translates to "stomp" for all you western cowboys. And stomp on the Aussie pretender this wine does. The Estampa, Gold 2004 from the Colchagua Valley in Chile is a blast from the past - an old Bordeaux style blend of Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Carmenere and Petit Verdot (it's missing the merlot, however). But, Bordeaux in the mouth it's definitely not! Black as the ace of spades in the glass, it has an intense nose of deep dark black fruit. Full bodied, this is a rich style of wine with all sorts of berries and a little tar and licorice for complexity. Velvety tannins. Wow. And all for $18. Get yer assess to the LCBO asap to snap up what's left, cowboy!!!
Ok, I gave the ring-bolt another chance. The last vintage I tried was praised by the critics, I thought it was quite ordinary. So, I gave the 2004 another chance. This wine is cabernet sauvignon from Margaret River in Australia, an area that makes more restrained wines than one expects from Oz. Subtle nose of mulberries. Lean style with blackberries and hint of chocolate. A straight forward cab that really does nothing to distinguish itself. Underwhelming. Overpriced at $20, I think the experiment with this producer stops here.
Cheers!! And for those who celebrate this kind of thing, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pre Holiday Buzz

Gearing up for the holidays we've been trying a wide range of wines. First up is the Penfolds, St. Henri Shiraz, 2002. It's been a couple of years since I tasted this vintage. It still has that always deep stained cork that is seen with top Penfold's wines. It's getting a little bricky in colour as it ages. Blackcurrant nose. Full bodied with mouth coating, still-a-little-bit-rough tannins, but not chewy and overblown like a lot of aussie shiraz. This is all balanced by the tart cassis fruit. Long finish. Not cheap at $55 but still a wow!
The Argentine Fabre Montmayou, Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 has a thin vegetal nose. It is old world style, medium bodied with a vegetal flavour profile - mainly green peppers. This could pass for a Bordeaux. Well made, but not what you would call a pleasant sipper. Try it with meat. Overpriced at $22.

Much more interesting is the Gerard Bertrand, Merlot, Vin de Pays D'Oc, 2004. What a wine from such a generic appelation. Nose is pure rotting meat with raisins and violets. Full bodied, backward, earthy, mushrooms, meat, pencil get the idea. Long finish. Good wine and an absolute bargain at $15 if you appreciate the style.

At a dinner party we sampled a lot of generic wine from Spain, Australia and Chile that rated from OK to good, nothing really to tell you about except for the cheapest wine of the night - the Cono Sur, Merlot, 2007 is a generic, bottom-of-the-line $10 wine. But boy does it deliver for that price. On the nose it's 50:50 fresh meat (?hamburger) and raisins. Very balanced palate with preserved fruits as the predominant flavour supported by leather and tobacco. Not tannic but still surprisingly chewy body. This could be from Europe.... Good wine, what have you got to lose by trying it?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Around the World

Four wines from around the world, who's the winner? Oz takes the cake here. The Gemtree, Uncut Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2004 is oddly named but a gem of wine. Wine Spectator agrees, giving it 93 points. This is screwcap heaven - one of those bottles that as soon as you open you know it's gonna be good. Gorgeous oaky black fruit nose. Full bodied and balanced with all components firing on all cylinders. Lush tannins, blackberries, vanilla, caramel with a touch of chocolate. Long finish. Wow. Absolute bargain at $28.
A good friend recommended the La Massa, Toscana, 2006. This was also highly regarded by the WS, garnering 92 points. Black as a moonless night, inviting berry nose. Dense and concentrated but not thick or chewy at all. Uncompromising tannins. Graphite, chalk, with bright cassis shining through. Impressive but not as enjoyable as a good neighbouring robust chianti (not as good as the Antinori CC 2001 for example). Good wine, worth the $28 if you like this style.
The local lackey at the wine shop down the street recommended the The Wolftrap, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier 2007 from South Africa. I've had this before, not bad I thought, so give it a whirl. Initially this was a very average, non descript wine, but with a little time and a nice fat salmon steak it perked up a little. Subtle blueberry nose, medium bodied, supple fleshy palate with more blueberry fruit. Surprisingly long finish finish in the end. Good wine for $18 but not good enough for me to buy this vintage again.
Old vine zin. Yea! The Van Ruiten, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, 2006 is raspberry jam on the nose. Sweet, thick, almost port-like texture but without the tannic backbone. Mixed field berry fruit. Hot finish. A pleasant sipper. Good wine, price is about right at $18.