Sunday, April 25, 2010

big beautiful Bordeaux blends

What is a Bordeaux blend?
OMG can of worms. A Bordeaux blend is a blend of 2 or more of the 6 varietals grown in Bordeaux. Makes sense right? Except now it's not 6 it's 5 because Carmenere is not grown in Bordeaux anymore except for a few eccentrics. Oh - and the blend changes every year because of a myriad of factors affecting the vines and the grapes.
So. So it's also the term (loosely used) for anyone who is blending a multiple of varietals to create a wine with greater depth.
In other words, Bordeaux blends are alot of work, every year - and as my Grandmother may have said once "the proof is in the pudding". IE; work hard at making a beautiful blend of 70% Cab Sauv, 15% Cab Franc and 15% Merlot - and you will have something infinitely superior than when you started out.
Sounds kinda like marriage!
clear visual
  • deep ruby centre
  • pale cherry/slight brickish rim
  • big, heavy legs indicating high alcohol (13.5%+)

clean nose; moderate+ intense bouquet of

  • deep black fruit
  • wild grass & a touch of garide (savory herb)
  • sweet baie rouge
  • well rounded oak
  • meat

clean palate; 0 dryness, moderate acids, moderate++ tannin, moderately intense notes of

  • apple pips (the oaking)
  • touch of iron (once again - the meatiness of it)
  • some yet rich black fruit (deepest plum, some blackberry, some late saskatoon)
  • chalky terroir

This is a wonderfully balanced red, entering (IMHO) the prime of it's life. In human terms, this wine would be 26 years old - old enough to have some sophistication and yet young enough that we can still see lots of room for development. I think this will cellar well for years, and yet it seems to be losing none of the richness of the fruit. The tannins are full, yet smoothing down enough to sit and enjoy with or without food. All in all, an excellent wine!

2005 Desert Hills "Mirage", Black Sage Bench, BC **BUY THIS @ $35**

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spanish New World

In the world of Spanish winemaking, a few fellows are trying something new. Something really new. These guys are taking satellite mapping to analyze the soil!!

Anyways - whatever the techniques, and even though they aren't from Rioja (joke), they still make good wine.


clear visual;
  • deep ruby centre
  • moderate cherry rim with light brick tones *(little age - my guess 2005)
  • moderate legs indicating alcohol 11%-12.5% max

clean nose; moderate+ intense notes of

  • Spanish oak/leather
  • vegetal & floral (*damp grass & lilies)
  • rich terroir (I call it "baked earth syndrome" now)
  • black plums & even a touch of blueberry
  • slight spicy peppercorn

clean palate; 0 dryness, full-acid, full- tannin, moderate intense flavors

  • baies rouges (strawberry, cherry, red currants are strong)
  • leather & oak
  • chalky gravel
  • slight floral::: hibiscus?

moderate+/full- body, moderate+ alcohol (12%ish), long palate

These tannins are a bit chewy, and my notes said I thought this was due to long oaking. I only today learnt they oak this 10 months in American oak, then 6 months in new French... that's alot of oak for this blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv & Temperanillo. I would wait and see if the fruit can stand up to another few years for the tannins to soften. If I was to serve it - I would serve it only with food (on it's own it will rip up your tastebuds in short order) - and it would be fatty grilled meats. Think ribeye or striploin, not tenderloin. It's got a really well constructed structure to it, but the acids and the tannins are a bit overwhelming - they really do keep the fruit in the dark (as it were). Not my choice for $8/glass, but understandable for 8 Euro/bottle.

2004 Raimat "Abadia" Crianza, costers del segre (Spain) $8/glass @ JOEYS

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Port in the Spring?

Spring... the mid-day feels so much like Summer with the sunshine on your face and temperatures approaching the 20's. It's a great time to pull the white wines out of the cellar/closet/cupboard, and put them one or two at a time into the fridge, then onto the backyard table with some cheese, sausage & olives.

But then the sun dips away, the temperatures drop and for me - it's time for a glass of port and a slow fire, my beautiful wife, and a book (or no book once the port kicks in).


clean visual
  • moderately intense pale orange-brick
  • no rim - the wine is orange-brick straight through to the centre
  • immense legs, of course, as the alcohol will be over 18%

clean nose; fully intense notes

  • raisin-y dried fruit compote
  • candied toasted almonds
  • I've heard this discribed as "baked earth" terroir

clean palate; 2 dryness, moderate+acids, moderate++ tannins, fully intense flavors

  • the same as the nose - even stronger
  • deep flavors of raisins - like a raisin compote
  • perhaps some dried apple as well (think Gala or Royal Gala)
  • the oak the oak! soft & subtle, but a constant note from beginning to end
  • the candied toasted almonds again

full bodied, full++ alcohol @ 20%, excellent length on the palate at over 10 seconds

I'm going to try something new and try this chilled later as it is so good, and the Warre's family says chilled port is a beautiful apertif. I honestly believe this still has many years left in it, and would love to buy a case and taste a bottle every 12 months to watch the progression... as you may well know - try it in the evening after dinner with a wedge of Stilton cheese (or Roquefort). I even think a savory cannoli would be sublime with it!

2009 Warre's "Otima" 10 year tawny port (Portugal) **excellent buy @ $30**

Prospect Pinot Noir

I really like a good Pinot Noir. Heck - I'm such a Pinot fan that I even love them if they are just "decent", hence the next review.


clean visual
  • pale pale garnet centre
  • barest smidge of a cherry rim indicating little age
  • moderate legs - moderate alcohol

clean nose

  • touch of the oak? 6 months or less?
  • strawberry & light cherry
  • modest terroir

clean palate, 0 dryness, moderate+ acids, moderate tannin, moderately intense flavors

  • is this what they (other reviews) mean by "green fruit"?
  • light strawberry & cherry
  • a hint of floral & terroir

moderate- body, moderate alcohol & decent length on the palate

This is Not My Pinot.

I find it a touch unbalanced, and almost young Grenacha like in it's heavy handed acids. The fruit flavor is not bad, but the greenness gets in the way of the baies rouges. Granted, this is an "entry-level" Pinot Noir, but I would rather spend another $10 and get the Vista D'Oro 2009 or 2007. Sorry guys - it's not bad for the money, but, not great.

2008 Prospect Pinot Noir (by Mission Hill, West Kelowna, BC) $18

Friday, April 16, 2010

Zweigelt! Why not?

Just up the hill from Quail's Gate (Okanagan), and around the bend from Mission Hill, is the wonderful winery of Mt Boucherie.
My wife Thyra & I were the just after our honeymoon in August 2009, and had a wonderful afternoon of tastings.... at least, it was wonderful for me as I remember Thyra driving so I could taste everything! At Mt Boucherie we had a rich Zweigelt and I remember asking what the heck it was - as I don't remember ever tasting one before.
Zweigelt was only created 90 years ago in Austria by Franz Zeigelt (from a lesser known varietal and an uknown varietal) but has become the #1 planted varietal in Austria today. It's starting to make good growth in Canada & if you're ever in West Kelowna - visit Mt Boucherie.
clear visual
  • pale garnet centre
  • very light cherry rim with slight brickishness
  • moderate strong legs showing alcohol 12.5%+ (that was my guess - it was 12.9%)

clean nose; moderate+ to full- strong aromas of

  • leathery oak
  • baies rouges - but deep red berries, such as black raspberries
  • perhaps some black fruit like saskatoon
  • for only 12.9% the alcohol is a bit hot
  • slight tinge of green fruit?

clean palate; 0 dryness, moderate acids, moderate+ tannin, moderately intense flavors of

  • green apple
  • young blackberries & raspberries
  • leathery oak
  • the tannins are moderately chalky and rough (is that from the age of the vines?)

moderate body, moderate alcohol (stated above) and decent length on the palate

I really like the nose on this wine... it has a rich, full fruit and oak aroma that has some layers to it for a young vineyard, but. But the palate doesn't deliver the nose - the palate is a bit monodimensional and the acids are a bit unbalanced even though they aren't full acids. This isn't a bad wine, but to me it isn't a great wine either. To me (IMHO), it's a really interesting taste of something else - a varietal one doesn't come accross everyday in BC and they do a decent job of it. It definately needs food - try pizza, bbq pork ribs... nothing too spicy or too cheesy.

2006 Mt Boucherie Zweigelt, Kelowna (BC)

lesser known German varietal

I'm not talking about Faust, Geothe or Ludwig... this is another German - much less known. This is Muller-Thurgau!
This is a varietal created in the late 1800's (1889) in Germany by Dr. Muller (are you listening Dad? Doctors and wine go together - lol) and has been incredibly popular with winemakers there since then. Muller-Thurgau was created to combine the vast flavor profile of Reisling and an earlier ripening with large yield. This varietal does not generally age well, is blended into economical German wines, and is an easier way for winemakers to make a consistently fast return on their investment.
clear visual
  • ultra pale with the barest hint of meyer lemon yellow

clean nose; light notes of

  • dusty minerality
  • stonefruit, cherry & pear
  • very clear nose makes me think stainless steel - no oaking

clean palate; 1 dryness, moderate+ acid (bright and crisp), moderate- intense flavors of

  • lemon/lime citrus with grapefruit on the finish
  • light minerality
  • some soft wild flowers

light+body, light+alcohol (10.5%) and a decent length on the palate of 7-10 seconds

This is a wonderful expression of Muller-Thurgau. It's crisp and clean, with well-balanced acids and alot of fresh citrus fruit. This is a wonderful way to start and evening, or just to relax on the patio on a warm Spring afternoon.

2008 Montinoire Estate Muller-Thurgau, Williamette Valley (Oregon)

**excellent @ $20**

made with Organic grapes by the Marchesi family

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

unknown BC Merlot

Every so often I get a wine passed to me and it's really a wonderful surprise!

So a buddy of mine starts talking to me about a new winery in his portfolio, from up in the Similkameen Valley (southern BC) - Barcello Canyon. I tasted the completely undervalued merlot and became a Believer.


clear visual
  • deep garnet centre
  • slight strawberry/cherry rim indicating little age
  • long slow strong legs indicating high alcohol

clean nose, moderately++ intense notes of

  • funky barnyard
  • baies rouges (red berries)
  • hot alcohol, which should smooth down a bit over time but isn't overpowering

clean palate, moderate acid, moderate+ tannin, moderate intense notes of

  • baies rouges
  • moderate oaking
  • light chalky gravel
  • still hot on the alcohol

moderate body, as stated - high alcohol @ 14%, full palate

I find this a truly enjoyable red, either with food or on it's own... acids and tannins are well constructed and well balanced. There is enough flavor to enjoy with a variety of foods, from a venison burger to blue cheese, or a traditional pasta with italian sausage (not spicy or the alcohol will seem even hotter).

2007 Barcello Canyon Merlot, BC **buy this @ $22 and be pleasantly surprised**

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marquis Wine Cellars

you've all heard me preach about Marquis Wine Cellars, and their fantastic brigade of wine fanatics... many is the time I've walked in, slightly in distress, and been rescued by a bottle of this or a half-case of that.
Need to understand minerality? Marquis taught me about Muscadet and Albarino@!
Anyways, when they invited me to the First Ever Bloggers, Writers and Social Media Friends Tasting - I was honored. Here come the wines:
n/v Domaine Brut Petaillant from Domaine Huet
  • pale gold
  • clear nose with light moderate dusty straw, vanilla & butterscotch
  • moderate palate of crisp green apple & honey.
  • It has a beautiful rich body & creaminess. This is a luvly example of Vouvray!



2005 Le Chene Marchand (Sancerre) from Francois Crochet

  • utterly pale in its appearance
  • nose of rich lilies, limestone minerality, honeyed apricots
  • crisp clean dry acids, fantastically long structure of pears and lemon



2006 Gruner Veltliner Langenloiser Spiegel, Kamptal-osterreich from Alfred Loimer

  • utterly pale
  • nose of moderate+ rich stonefruit, roses & cherry blossoms
  • crisp acids initally give way to solid vanilla, grass and young stonefruit
  • (IMHO) beautiful richly developed wine with long structure and develops on the palate



2008 San Vincenzo, IGT Veneto Bianco from Roberto Anselmi

  • color of pale straw
  • moderate papaya nose
  • incredibly well balanced acids - flavors of crisp green apple and lemon



2006 Chants des Vignes Juracon from Domaine Cauhape

  • pale gold
  • very light lemony nose runs to prarie wild flowers and rich minerality
  • incredibly rich minerality from the silica... dusty long palate is enriched by lemonbalm
  • I love Muscadet. I love Juracon.



2006 Saint Joseph Blanc "Silice" from Domaine Coursodon (100% Marsanne)

  • very pale yellow
  • light nose of little wild flowers, french oak (vanilla & butterscotch)
  • wonderfully crisp and tart acids that give way to caramelized apples, a touch of autumn spices and mild black pepper (maybe pink peppercorns?)



2007 Malvasia, Rioja Alta from Abel Mendoza

  • pale yellow
  • bouquet of rich stonefruit, vanilla, butterscotch, honey & minerality
  • moderate acids and full body with long palate of oystery minerality and mild meyer lemon



2007 Estate Viognier, Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo CA from John & Lorraine Alban

  • pale yellow
  • wow. uberly rich floral and honeyed bouquet... reminiscent of Muscat
  • stunningly developed palate of stonefruit, well balanced by long acids and rounded by a rich creamy body
  • this man is my new hero of New World Viognier



2008 Bourgueil Rose (Cab Franc) by Domaine Des Ouches

  • light cherry centre with pale rim
  • nose of strawberries and wild flowers
  • light crisp acids with moderate tannin and palate of cherry, rose, red plum and minerality



2008 Touraine Rouge "Cuvee Albert Denis" by Domaine de la Renaudie

  • (100% Cot or Malbec)
  • bruised plum centre with little or no rim
  • moderately+intense nose of dark fruit, spices & chalky terroir
  • moderate++ acids, moderate tannin, palate of plum, cherry and sage, chalky terroir
  • I found the acids crisp with alot of the red fruit coming early in the palate - leaving a bit of anise



2008 Moulin-a-Vent (Gamay) from Domaine Richard Rottiers

  • very pale garnet centre with watery rim
  • chalky nose of cherry, black plum and leathery oak
  • moderate--acid, moderate++tannin, full rich long palate showing oak and young red fruit
  • (IMHO) I think -even though it's Gamay - it could still stand another 6 to 12 months in bottle to balance out the wine. Although, god only knows, it could have been sensory overload for my palate



2005 Bourgogne, Burgandy (Pinot Noir) from J.F. Coche-Dury

  • pale garnet centre turning to a brickish rim
  • typical Pinot nose of light red fruit - a touch heavy on the oak - with some black floral
  • light cids, moderate+ tannins, with a palate of strawberry and black floral
  • the tannins in this are long, rich and velvety. a wine you want to savor and contemplate



2007 Crozes-Hermitage (Syrah) from Domaine Des Lises

  • deep plum centre with slight watery rim
  • deep long spicy nose with jammy black fruit
  • moderate++ acids, moderate tannin, palate of chalky terroir, oak and long red fruit



2005 Grand Grue Glacee, Vins de Pays Des Collines Rhodaniennes, Rhone Valley from Domaine Francois Villard

  • (merlot and Cab Sauv based)
  • garnet centre paling to strawberry-brickish rim
  • moderate+ intense red fruit on the nose with a dusty minerality, chalkiness and some black fruit
  • moderate-acid, moderate++ tannin, rich body with a long distinguished palate of dusty plums & the terroir



(nv?) Albatro Toscana (Italy) from Ferenc Mate

  • (Sangiovese, Cab Sauv & Merlot)
  • pale garnet centre with light brickish rim
  • moderate+ intense notes of rich dusty black fruit
  • moderate acids, full tannins, uberly long developed palate of cherries & saskatoons, but I found the alcohol a bit hot



2004 Bembibre, D.O.Bierzo, Leon (100% Mencia) from Domino de Tares

  • deep ruby centre with a slightly gritty, pale brickish rim
  • huge bouquet of plums,plums, chalky terroir, red and black peppercorns and plums
  • moderate acids, moderate++ tannins, big big body and deceptively soft alcohol for 14%, a true craftsmans structure with long black fruit and exotic florals. What a pleasure to drink!



2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert & Elinor Travers @ Mayacamas Vineyards

  • deep plum centre with a light cherry rim
  • It is worth noting that I could NOT tell this was 6 years old because of the high level of craftsmanship... ask & I'll explain the lack of brick in the rim
  • crazy wild bouquet of immense florals - think a greenhouse - and uberly deep terroir (volcanic soil)
  • moderate+ acids, moderate+ tannins, ZING! Incredibly rich body with velvety volcanic terroir, cherry, currants and rosehips
  • If I have a bottle of this, I probably won't share it with you - lol -



2006 Fiancee (50% Grenache and Syrah) from Domaine La Barroche

  • garnet centre with light cherry-brickish rim
  • a long dusty heavy nose rich with decadent port notes
  • moderate+ acid, moderate+tannin, palate of crisp red fruit, oak and terroir - a true balance to the heavy nose making it something easy to drink at any time of the year.


So obviously it was an immensely successful tasting. Vivacious wines and great company - it was a true learning experience for me, and in the best of all possible ways. John Clerides has created a "wine haven" where I can go for advice on a $12 bottle or I can stare with longing at the $500 bottles I will try one day (don't read that part Thyra!). Everyone was very generous with their time (as always) and there was great food from the Hills family.

If only all wine tastings could be so inspiring!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

wines in CUBA

in Cuba?
yes yes, it does occur. I know that lots of people will tell you that there is no wine in Cuba, but they are wrong! Not only does Cuba import world-class wines from South America, Australia & Spain, but they are also starting to make their own... an Italian company has a co-venture with the Cuban government and I for one look forward to tasting their first cuvee.
My wife and I got back from Cuba Sunday last, and my apologies for taking almost another week to write about it. I did taste (2) great wines that I might not have otherwise, but of course I also tasted some of the best rums in the world. Look for rum tasting notes to follow another day - I was too busy drinking rum to make tasting notes. :>
clear visual, very pale yellow with a watery rim
clean nose with lots of minerality
ultra-clean palate, crisp acids, moderate alcohol, moderate++ intense notes of minerality and under-ripe apple
this was a wine made for seafood: oysters, lobster, steamed clams. It was rich and not overwhelming, it was crisp but not harsh - it was a great wine.
2005 Pazo Pondal, Albarino, Rias Biaxas origen **buy this @ $12 CAN !!
clear visual, full- intense honey gold centre
clean nose, moderately intense notes of oak, apple, vanilla
clean palate, moderate acids, moderate+ intense notes of apple/pear, vanilla, rock candy, light floral
luxurious wine with deep flavors that lasted long on the palate. Bouquet that developed over time as much as the palate did. Phenomonal with broiled and grilled fish or poultry, especially when garlic and savory herbs are included in moderation.
2005 Marques de Concha, Chardonnay, Chile **buy this @ $15 CAN !!
So, we only had (2) wines and both truly a bit decadent. Also both under $20 CAN which is nothing for us, but a month's wage for most Cubans... which is why you won't see alot of wine in Cuba even though they have over 200 certified sommeliers.
It's a crazy world folks.