Monday, June 29, 2009

June Roundup

OK, lets start with a same grape challenge - two BC wines from the same producer but very different styles and one from a lesser known appellation in Argentina. The Domaine de Chaberton is a winery in the little known Fraser Valley, but they actually make their good reds from grapes sourced in the scorching Okanagon. The Fraser Valley is too wet and cool to ripen noble red wine grapes. These two wines get their grapes from the Black Sage bench. The Domaine de Chaberton, Syrah, 2006 is made in an old world style. Leather and grapefruit on the nose. Yes, grapefruit. It's medium bodied with lots of pepper and blackcurrant. Medium length with leathery tannins on the back end. Good wine, but number 3 in this mini-tasting. $30 is too much.
These guys also make the new world style, Canoe Cove, Shiraz, 2004. Sweet smelling with clove/nutmeg aromas. Medium bodied with creamy caramel and cranberries and chocolate - sounds horrible I know, but it's actually nicely balanced. It initally comes across as a "good" wine, but with time it simmers to a "wow". Give it time in a carafe. Number 2 in the tasting, $30 is not cheap but about what you have to pay for really good BC wine. And you get the best wine label that I have seen in a long time!!
Right, now for the winner. This is the third wine I've had from these guys, and they have all impressed in their own way. Who said San Juan in Argentina cannot produce good wine? (well, actually, some twits at SCL in Mendoza did, but this winery proves them either brainless or liars). The Las Moras, Gran Shiraz, 2005 has a beautiful full blown oak and spice nose. Full bodied, the tannins meld seamlessly with the cherries and spice. Great length, this is stunning and impressive wine for $24. Wow.

Alright, now for the banal. First, kudos to the Australian marketing team behind Shot in the Dark, Shiraz-Petit Sirah, 2008. Impressive modern packaging. Too bad what's in the bottle is a pretty generic Aussie shiraz. Medium coloured, medium bodied, some good black berry fruit and some smooth smokey undertones. But one glass is enough. And $15 is too expensive. OK wine.
The Wyndham Estate, Bin 555 Shiraz, 2005 tries to impress with 6 gold "medals" and a silver on the bottle. Very soft, smooth wine with sweet stewed plums, but again, pretty generic. Makes you reach for a second glass but then you wonder why. OK wine, $16 could be spent on something better.

Last up is the Michel Torino, Cuma, Organic Malbec, 2008 from Argentina. 14 bucks gets your nose thinking its one of those intense smelling dried fruit berry bars that they used to sell at Costco. Medium bodied, bright juicy boysenberries with a little rusticity built in. OK wine, not complex but not apologetic at all - and a better buy than those banal Aussie efforts that cost more.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Simply Super

I love those wine evenings where everything imbibed is superb - one wow after another...
Lets start with the "Great one" - Wayne Gretzky. I don't know how much he actually has to do with sourcing the grapes and actually making this wine, but his Wayne Gretzky Estates, No. 99, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa valley 2005 is very good. Voluptuous style, creamy, intense with a nice acidic edge. Medium bodied, well integrated tannins. Wow. My only criticism is that the finish is a little short. $40.
The Catena Alta, 2004, Cabernet Sauvignon is from Mendoza. Forest floor nose, lots of mossy stuff going on. Initially it's all about being outside - the complete opposite of Cab intepretation compared with Gretzky's wine. With time, the fruit does finally come out - stewed red and black fruits. Complex stuff. Wow. $48.
We tried the Catena Alta, 2004, Malbec again - it seems we come across this wine every 6 months or so. This bottle was medium bodied, classy, silky, with lots of pomegranate fruit. Wow. Worth decanting for a few hours at least. $48.
The Caymus, Special Selection, 2000 is from California. Capital "E" Expensive at $180 a bottle. Well balanced, top notch new world cabernet sauvignon, this is simply super wine. You can't go wrong opening a bottle of this on special occasions (as long as you can stomach the price as well as this nectar!).
Just when you think you've hit the pinnacle, some joker shows up with a bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion, 1995 (thanks, Joe!). Showing its age with a nice bricky colour, this has a cassis nose mixed with a little turpentine. Verrrry smooth, the tannins have softened to become enjoyable. Mushrooms and smoke layer over the red fruit. This is the epitomy of old world elegance. This wine is practically unobtainable from retail at the moment, expect to pay over $300/bottle at auction or from a collector.


Thursday, June 04, 2009


If Chile and Argentina can do it, why not Uruguay? Never had a Uruguayan (is that spelled correctly??) Merlot before, so snapped this one up when I saw it. The Pisano, Rio de los Pajaros, Reserve, Merlot, 2007 is a nice dark wine, but unfortunately not very exciting. Really closed nose. As for the palate, the word that comes to mind is "flat". It is austere and dense, but not very flavourful - maybe some hard blackberry candy (but not sweet) - and has absolutely NO finish. Got a touch better with time meaning maybe it needs laying down... Judging it now, it's dense and perhaps has potential, but is not very pleasant to drink, I would rate it as an "average" wine. Overpriced at $16.
I had high hopes for the Montes Alpha, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 as I really like a lot of their other wines. This one is not a typical "big" wine from Montes. Dark colour and a red berry nose. Medium full bodied, a little lean, raspberry/blueberry fruit, a little licorice on the back end. Good length. A "good" wine, but in the end pretty generic cabernet sauvignon. Nowhere near as good as their syrah.
I'd have to say not worth the $20.

The Edmeades, Zinfandel, Mendocino county, 2006 is an interesting wine from 50 year old vines. Spicy nose. Flowery, a little sweet, thick, tangy, with a slight alcohol mouth burn (it's 15.5% ethanol). Medium bodied, dried cherries and candy, no oak evident. Tasty but made for Joe Public. Not worth the $22.

Hey there's hope yet.....keep tasting....