Saturday, January 17, 2009


OK, time for some value. Chilensis must be Chilean for cheap value as this is one of the best $12 wines around (in Canada; that means you can probably get it for well less than 10 bones in the USA). Their 2006 Carmenere Reserve has a strawberry and pomegranate nose. Medium-full bodied with an explosion of red fruits, primarily redcurrents and dried montmorency cherries (i scarfed a few to confirm...). Silky texture. Nice finish for a cheapo wine. Good stuff, I usually buy a bunch as this wine is consistently reliable vintage to vintage.
Liberty School is Treana's bargain label. Their cab has tailed off recently so I thought I'd try the 2005 Syrah which is labelled "California" but actually comes from Paso Robles. Well this is much better than their cab. Black in the glass, initially beefy but this blows off to fieldberry jam. Plush and rich as it initially fills your mouth...feels like this could be a "wow" wine....but no, it starts to fade fast. It is still really fruit driven and definitely interesting for the price ($18 up here). Good wine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Those sneaky (not snaky!) Frenchmen, they're buying vineyards everywhere...California, Argentina, Chile, even Canada (Osoyoos-Larose in the Okanagan). Chateau Beaucastel is an icon in Chateauneuf du Pape, and the owners are partners in a project in the Paso Robles appelation of California called Tablas Creek. They chose the hilly vineyard for its similarities to Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape: limestone soils, a favorable climate, and rugged terrain. The partners imported the traditional varietals grown on their C-du-P property, including Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Counoise. Their red Esprit du Beaucastel 2005 costs about the same as an entry level C-du-P meaning it isn't cheap, but it's less than half the price of the parent at $42. So, how does it fare? It smells new world - Jammy plums but some minerality. It tastes old world - medium bodied and flavourful without being rich. Lively cherry-raisin-fig flavours with a smoky, pastrami-like finish. Very smooth and ready to go. Good wine, but not worth the relatively high cost.
At half the price, the Argentine Trapiche, Medalla, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 comes in as an oak "monster" - it is aged in 100% new oak and this overpowers everything else. It's hard to discern any fruit. It was much better at 24 hours with some chalky minerals coming out on the nose and the oakiness becoming a little muted (although it remains quite chewy). Good wine, but not for everyone. $20.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Out of Africa

Monkey business? Nope, wine is serious!! Not too much available here from Africa, all of it from South Africa so here's a couple to try. The better of the two was the Remhoogte, Estate Wine, 2004, which clocks in at 15% alcohol. Nice dark colour with a rich kirsch-like nose. Dense, full bodied with raspberry fruit, cloves and other dusky spices. Mineral finish. Good wine and very interesting for the price ($27) but I would not go out and buy a case of it.
The Onyx, Darling, Kroon, 2003 came highly recommended but fell a little flat. Slightly medicinal nose, medium bodied, very bright red fruit. A lively wine - pleasant enough to drink that it slips in as a "good" wine but nowhere near as complex as the Remhoogte. About $20, would not buy this vintage again.
A very short note on a wine that really does not deserve writing about - but I will to rant about 2 pet peeves: the Santa Carolina, Reserva de Familia, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 comes in one of those oversize extra-heavy bottles in order to make you think that it's "special", a premium wine that deserves your attention. This is STUPID, it just costs more to ship and means more to recycle. At least I could maybe live with this if the wine was exceptional, but this is plain and simple everyday wine - not flawed, just an average plonk. Which brings me to PP#2 - "reserva de familia" - well they should reserve this for the family because selling it to us for $20 is a crime....may it burn for it's sins!!

Cheers from the cold frozen north!!