November 22, 2011

Cooper's Hawk Vineyard's Harvest Dinner

Our good friend's at Cooper's Hawk Vineyard's in Essex country, Ontario, invited us to a wonderful day of grape picking, food and wine.

tasting some riesling, gurwurztraminer and chardonnay right from the tanks.

Farm kitty!

Picking some merlot.

Owner, Tom O'Brien

Autumn soup was delicious.

That's Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

January 13, 2011

January wine reviews

Hohoho happy new year.. yeah..all that...

anyway here's some reviews on wine that i've had recently, some affordable, some not.:

Fog Dog Freestone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, Sonoma Coast $49.95


Love it!
Big nose, lots going on; very clean, pure scents of cherries and raspberries with some herbal, earthy notes. Medium weight. Really good concentration of fresh, sweet berries, a hint of mint and a touch of earthiness. Well integrated tannin. Outstanding overall balance. Good finish.
This will certainly hold for half a decade or more but honestly I think it's perfect right now while it's still fresh and vigorous. It ain't exactly cheap but you get what you pay for. If you're looking for a wine to drink with next Christmas or thanksgiving dinner, look no further. 

Masi Costasera Amarone 2006, Veneto $38.95



Solid Amarone at a great price.
Dark purple. Rich nose of raisins, stewed plums, anise, some floral notes and a hint of smoke. Alcohol is pretty high but very well contained in full bodied, ripe, dense, dark fruit and flavours of Christmas cake, vanilla/oak and a touch of espresso. Good acidity and very well balanced tannins. Long finish.
Delicious now but wiil certainly cellar for another decade.

Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape 2008 $89.95



Big smoky, tarry, stewed prune nose. Full bodied. Lots of concentration. Surprisingly open and drinkable right now. (I wonder if these will shut down in soon like CdBs are prone?) Like '02 it was a rainy vintage, I guess this was manipulated to make the most of what they had. Powerful & boozy. Flavours of christmas cake, plum pudding, anise. Good, but a bit overblown for me. '07 is a hard vintage to follow (not to mention the strong '05 and yummy '06). Drink now or lay it down, see what happens. Either way my cellar won't stock this vintage. Wait for the '09s. 

Concha Y Toro Marques De Casa Concha Merlot 2007 $19.95


Dark purple. Excellent nose for a wine at this price: cocoa, menthol, blackberry, gingerbread spices, really nice.
The full bodied palate is not nearly as interesting as the nose: it's right on the edge of over-ripeness and over-extraction. Plenty of soft tannin, sweet (a bit too sweet for my taste), decent balance. The palate is big and bold but also simple and singular. Tasty, but became boring. Good finish.
For people who like J. Lohr's Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon: good value, easy-drinking, borderline fruit-bomb crowd pleaser. Drink now or hold.
89 + extra point for the nose.

A By Acacia Pinot Noir 2009, Monterey County $17.95


I liked this. Not especially complex but it has a nice nose, good pinot flavour and nice ripe tannin. Overall quite tasty and well balanced. I've spent more on less. Good value.

Carmen Carmenere Reserva 2008 $10.95


dark red. dense floral (lavender?) and blackberry nose. Great concentration, good acidity. Fruity, spicy. Quite soft.
Drink now.
A good party drinker.
A steal at this price. Well done.

Castello Di Farnetella Lucilla 2007, Igt Toscana $18.95


Dark wine. Spicy, fruity, oaky nose with a touch of volatility.
I liked this; Lot's a flavour, nice tannin, if a bit rustic. Medium, to full body. Very Italian; fruity, herbal, some rough edges.
Perhaps not a sipper but good wine to cut through rich food; This was actually quite perfect with a platter of prosciutto, Italian cave cheese, olives, pears and honey.

Ornellaia Le Volte 2008, Igt Toscana $28.95


51% Sangiovese, 34% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tight nose, some fruit and herbs, some oak. Medium bodied. Not bad, but it has a distinct green-pepper, vegetal flavour (probably due to less than ripe Cabernet Sauvignon). If it we're $20 I'd be underwhelmed. At almost $30 it's disappointing, especially for a wine from Ornellaia even if it is their bottom shelf label.

Rubens Valpolicella Ripasso 2007 $15.95


A decent ripasso. Earthy, plummy, nutty aromas, a slight fake-leather whiff. Full bodied, spicy, sweet, densely fruited, oaky with dry tannins. Good warm finish. A good wine at a good price. A small section of Ruben's dramatic "The Martyrdom of St Livinus" on the label. Cool.

see all my reviews here:

November 24, 2010

Gourmet Food and Wine show...

Thursday night opening night was ostensibly the VIP night...but there was nothing exclusive about it; It was packed. The food wasn't particularly gourmet either; the risotto sucked, the pork on a bun sucked, but the prime rib on a bun was really good. I tasted quite a bit of wine as well but nothing really blew me away. Though to be fair I didn't spend $50 for a taste of the '06 Mouton Rothschild. The bottle costs $850, but still that's a bit steep.

here's a few wines I did like:

Domaine Du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf Du Pape 2007, $76.95

92 (now) - 92+? (later)
Like many great wines this is deceptively great. A novice could easily dismiss this wine because it has clearly shut down. But you can sense it's potential. Loads of flavour buried in tannin. I found it almost a bit thin on the palate which is weird because it's not (a gustatory illusion?). I suspect it's because it's nose it so closed & subtle right now. But take a mouthful and swish it around for a while, you'll taste all sorts of complexities dying to get out. I wouldn't touch this for at least 5 years..though 10-20 would be better.

Sigalas Santorini 2008, $21.95

From my favorite island comes a tight, flinty, serious Assyrtiko with a very clean, precise nose. Quite austere but in a refreshing sort of way. Like an angry mating of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Not as much of a crowd-pleaser or sipper as some softer Assyrtikos (like Boutari) but a wine made tailor made for Greek food: grilled squid, eggplant, caviar & garlic dips, lamb souvlaki. Heaven.

D'arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2007, $49.95

90 (now) - 92 (later)
Great nose on this; blackberries, herbal, a bit smokey. Classic Aussie Shiraz. Full bodied and well balanced, if a tad hot in spite of it's great concentration. Long finish. Still very young, needs several years at least, at which point I suspect I'd give it an extra point or two.

Hardys Bankside Shiraz (V) 2008, $13.95

Another great value from Hardys. Medium-full bodied with plenty of Shiraz flavour without being over-extracted or having too much mass-produced sweetness as some inexpensive Aussie wines are prone. This was most excellent with prime rib on a bun. 

And these next two were great, i didn't try it at the show but the next day at dinner party, (pork tenderloin with proper mushroom rissoto)

Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru 1999, $26.99



This is a blend from many 1er Cru vineyards, but what it lacks in specific character it makes up in value.
'99 was a good year in Beaune. This would have spent about 12-18 months in wood before bottling so it has around 9 years of age on it.
Pale red with the pretty, telltale bricking of age. Young wines have aromas, aged wines develop a bouquet and even in this modest Burgundy you get a sense of that; sweet strawberries, earthy black truffles, leather...
Very little sediment (was this re-bottled?)
Sweet & savory, well balanced, smooth tannins, good finish.
Well worth the price.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2007, $29.95



Way to go Australia!
I'm a lover of dessert wines and this is great one. An after-dinner crowd-pleaser this is beautiful golden-yellow with a tinge of amber. Outstanding nose: loads of apricot, fresh peaches, lemon, honey and earthy notes. Just great. Thick, but not quite as mouth-coating as some icewines and Sauternes can be. Loads of complex flavours. Very sweet but with acidity and tang so it's not cloying. Very well balanced. I'd love to taste this in 10 years. A good value for a sweet Semillon of this quality, especially when compared it to similarly styled Sauternes at $10-$40+ more.

grab 'em if you can find 'em.





November 18, 2010

A few more reviews...

Tonight: Gourmet Wine and Food show...never been. Full report later.

In the mean time..a few more LCBO wine reviews

Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano D'abruzzo 2008, $12.95


A good, old fashioned Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo and, along with young Chianti, one of my go-to pizza & spaghetti on Wednesday wines.
Deep, bright red. Hot, spicy, fruity nose. Medium body. Hot & tangy. Sort of like a rustic Barbera with attitude and tannins. Boozy but plenty of flavour. Palate cleaning acidity and bright fruit make this a great Cheese-&-tomato-dish wine.
Drink this next Wednesday with a pizza and tell me it's not a perfect match.
Wine snobs take note: The best food wines are often inexpensive (and Italian)!
Drink young.

Masi Costasera Amarone 2006, $38.95


Solid Amarone at a great price.
Dark purple. Rich nose of raisins, stewed plums, anise, some floral notes and a hint of smoke. Alcohol is pretty high but very well contained in full bodied, ripe, dense, dark fruit and flavours of Christmas cake, vanilla/oak and a touch of espresso. Good acidity and very well balanced tannins. Long finish.
Delicious now but will certainly cellar for another decade.

Seigneurs D'aiguilhe 2006, $19.95


Dark ruby red. Nice fresh nose of strawberries, vanilla and Greek oregano. Medium weight. Crisply acidic and fruity entry: tastes of cranberry & herbs. Very dry, some sweetness. Initially quite fruity with medium tannins but became a bit more austere the next day. Somewhat modern in style but still very French. I was told this is mostly Merlot but I clearly detect a good bit of Cabernet Franc in the mix which I suspect did not ripen as well as the Merlot and gave this a slightly unripened green and bitter edge.
Good overall. More of a food wine than a sipper. I doubt I'd buy more.

Hess Estate Chardonnay 2008, Napa Valley, $19.95


Medium-light straw yellow with a tinge of green. Nose initially a bit tight but opens: Green apple, fresh mown grass. Medium full bodied, quite plush on the tongue. Dry. The Alcohol is a bit high for my taste but the acidity and it's weight does balance it out to some extent. Not quite "buttery" but it is an interesting mix of a soft mid-palate and sharp, slightly bitter top end. Good finish. Heady wine.
Did the trick with (and in) my home-made saffron chicken pot pie.
Not sure I'd buy it again though. Something about Hess' regular labels that leaves me wanting.

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino 2004, $46.95


This decent BdM is surprisingly lightweight for is type and vintage. Tightish nose opens with some swirling/decanting: prunes/raisins/dried fruit, herbs, vanilla, tobacco. Not much concentration on the palate, though overall it is fairly well balanced. Medium bodied, but a bit thin really.
Honestly it does the name 'Brunello' no favours. Not that this is a bad wine, it's not, it's a good wine. But anyone trying Brunello for the first time (and spending $50 bucks for the "privilege") may be underwhelmed and wonder what all the fuss is about.


Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2006, VQA Okanagan Valley, $45.00


Welcome to Bordeaux Columbia!
This is an old school blend but a new school wine. Quite open nose: Dark fruits, cedary-oak, vanilla, mocha, menthol. Good dark-red colour, full bodied. Well balanced, good concentration of fruit, not too much oak, fairly ripe, smooth tannin. Much more forward than an equivalent French blend. Drinking well now (give it a vigorous decanting) but will certainly improve over a few more years, probably peaking around 2013 but will likely last for some years beyond. Well done.

That's it for now...hopefully I'll taste all sorts of good stuff tonight at the wine and food show.





November 2, 2010

Back to the Blog

Took a short break from the blog for a while...(is 6 months short?).

Toronto Wine Guy is's a few recent reviews, see links for LCBO availability:

Tuscany, Italy
$179.95 Supertuscan superstar. Yeah this is a pretty great wine...and a price to match.
Super-ripe, very concentrated, uber-complex, endless finish.
Nose is still a bit tight; spicy, woody, coffee, a bit flowery and smoky, (almost like a a tar and roses Barolo thing!).
Full bodied....lots going on here, like a perfect after dinner course: cherries jubilee, espresso, cognac, cigar. In this case all mixed together!
You can taste it the next day.
A tad hot at 14.5%., in Bordeaux this would be more like 13.5% (blame the Tuscan sun!) but that's nitpicking, the density of everything else holds it in check just fine.
A big wine but also quite subtle.

Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir 2007, Mornington Peninsula
$19.95 This is one of the better Pinot noirs I've had at this price range. In fact it's as good as many I've had at double the price. (I'm looking at you Clos Jordan)
Clear bright red, fresh nose of cranberry & mint. Medium-light body, sweet/tart raspberry on the palate, bright acidity, smooth tannin. Not especially concentrated but well balanced.
It'll keep for a couple of years but there's no point in cellaring this wine, it will only lose it's freshness. A fine drink that's good to go. Was great with Thanksgiving dinner.

Bodegas Lan Reserva 2004, Doca Rioja
$19.95 Good wine, well made, but not as good as I had hoped. It's medium body was lighter than I expected.
Has an olivey, briney thing going on. A bit of anise-floral-tar (which reminded me almost like a hint of barolo...ok...neat.)
A bit of heat and wood on the finish...slightly sour.
Yeah this was pretty good, but not a "stunning value".  If this cost $40, I'd be annoyed.
"good", "nice"...yeah...not great.
$20 for an "89" ain't saying that much these days.

Château Larose Trintaudon 2006, Ac Haut Médoc
Bordeaux, France
$26.95 Not bad, not great, but not bad.
Nice nose; earthy, herbal, fruity.
Tastes ok too: medium body, decent concentration of fruit, pretty good balance especially for a fairly young haut-medoc which are often quite austere. Certainly no fruit-bomb but a bit of a modern touch here.
i won't be rushing out to buy a case but it's a good all-round Bordeaux, if overpriced. At this level you really are paying an extra $5-$10 for the region name alone, in this case "haut medoc".

Bordeaux, France
$24.95 Yet another mediocre no-name Bordeaux.
A good, if typical, nose. Medium body. On the palate: Fruit is there but a bit thin, dark berries, a bit woody, some minerality, not too much tannin.
decent, but why bother...
$25 bucks should buy you more than average.

That's about it for now....oh wait, new releases of the following wines are out now, I've really enjoyed previous vintages so it might be worthwhile checking them out, these are my eviews from previous years...
'07 is out now..this is my review of the '06
Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classico 2006, Docg
Tuscany, Italy
$19.95 90
A darn fine Chianti.
Not quite "full" bodied, but almost. Dense, dark (but fading fast) fruits, nice fine tannin. Savory, with a slightly sweet, fruity undertone.
Not much life left though I fear...the tannins are holding strong while the fruit lays underneath. If the fruit can survive a year or two in the cellar this could evolve spendidly. Not sure it has the stuffing...the tannins might be too strong and the fruit may already be fading. Drink now. But worth a shot at 1 or 2 years aging. You might even find some cute little half bottles.

'07s are out on this are mixed but the price is right...worth a shot.
Abruzzo, Italy
$13.95 Jam and pepper. Sweet and spicy. Thick and juicy with some heat. (Welches grape juice & vodka jello shooters?) Reminds me of some Cali Zins I've had only thicker. I loved this. My wife? Not so much, though she enjoyed it more the next day. Great Price to quality ratio.

ok so that's it for now....gourmet wine show coming up, i think I've snagged free tickets to the VIP opening night, I hope so. Though this time I'll be drinking alone, I'll drag Mimi along but with another bun in the oven she'll have to settle for appreciating some fine bouquets.