Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is a grape supposed to be?

Do you take first impressions seriously? I do. Very much so. When I meet someone for the first time, how they act and talk to me tells me a lot of what kind of person they are. I take things very personally. I suppose it's the result of a childhood where you're reminded of your minority status every single day. So I don't forget things very easily.

Anyways, enough of that. Enough. On to wine. I only recently learned that we were talking to Mr. Jeff Aubry, President of Coyote's Run Estate Winery. I was asking him about their Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir. I was remarking how soft the wine was. It's what Mr. Aubry said to me after that really.......turned me off to their wine. He said, "That's what pinot noir is supposed to be. It's supposed to be more fruit forward and supple. Pinot noir isn't supposed to have a lot of structure." I apologize if those aren't the exact words, but the general idea is correct. Mr. Aubry believes that their wines are what pinot noir is supposed to be. That's where I disagree strongly, and I really emphasize that.

Wine isn't supposed to be anything. You can't say for certain what a certain varietal is supposed to be. With the proper equipment and technique, the winemaker can make the grape varietal taste like whatever they want it to be. You can make pinot noir into a montrous 16% alcohol fruit bomb, or make it delicate and structured. Certainly, pinot noir has common characteristics, whether you grow it in Cote de Beaune or in Niagara, or in Russian River Valley. But to say that pinot noir should be a certain style is misguided and naive, at best.

What I can't stand is the lack of honesty behind that statement. Why can't you just say that this is the philosophy of winemaking that Coyote's Run believes in? I respect that very much, when everyone in an organization believes in the same ideal, from the top down. Don't try to put a marketing spin on it, and say that this should be the standard for pinot noir. Wine isn't supposed to be anything but a conjunction between what nature provides and what man's hand creates. In the worst of cases, that balance is tipped more to the heavy hand of the winemaker, but that's for another post.

This is my point of view, and I stand firmly behind it. From what I remember, Coyote's Run makes an agreeable wine, particularly their unoaked Chardonnay. I just hate the spin on things. Maybe that's not what Aubry meant. But if it is, then I take issue with that statement.

So, Mr. Aubrey: if you're still reading this, I challenge you to correct me. And by the way, do you really not remember us coming in? I mean, 6 Chinese people coming into Niagara wine country in the middle of winter doesn't raise eyebrows?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's time

Lately, I've been feeling very antsy about the wine that I'm storing away. Both at home, and the ones at my friend's place. What if they all go bad? What if they're over the hill already? I'd have wasted my money for nothing. That's why I feel like just taking out some of the older ones to have a taste. After all, what's the point of buying wine if you're not going to experience it?

First on my list - I have a couple of older bottles of St-Joseph lying around. And a few bottles of 2003 Bordeaux. After all the talk about how the 2003 Bordeaux vintage is so hot and fruit-forward, then I want to try it now, in all its fruit-bomb glory. Better than to risk opening it 10 years down the road and discovering that it's collapsed due to a complete lack of backbone and structure.

So I guess that's the point I'm making. Wine is supposed to be enjoyed with friends and family. Be generous and don't be afraid to pull a few bottles out when you feel like it's time. Forget all the maturity predictions you read about. That's all they are - predictions. Wine is perfectly mature when YOU want to drink it. After all, wine is at its best when it's drunk in the moment.

My worst nightmare

My goodness. Since I've come back from that Niagara trip, just having been feeling very well. It wasn't the cause of it, but I now have a really bad cold. Stuffed up, coughing, low energy - all the symptoms. The worst case scenario, because I'm really looking forward to trying some big, hearty wines. Guess that'll have to wait because I can't smell or taste a thing. Heading back to Waterloo after an early dinner tonight. Back to all the madness.

Since I won't be having any wine for the next few days, I guess we'll discuss some other things. Like that Michel Chapoutier interview I listened to. Or the 2003 Bordeaux that I bought. I also want to talk about my palate, because I'm noticing a fascinating evolution and development. Anyways, I'll post later tonight. You know what'll really clear my sinuses? A big glass of gin tonic. A BIG one.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some thoughts on Niagara region

Yesterday, I posted about the specific wineries we visited. Let me just say some things about Niagara as a whole.

Every time I go down to Niagara, I always leave impressed with the quality I see. There are noticeable improvements year to year, and I'm really excited to be able to experience a new wine region come into its own. I'd like to focus on the Beamsville Bench and Twenty Mile Bench appellations next time, around the towns of Jordan and Lincoln. They produce really classic northern climate wines, full of lively acidity, minerality, and most importantly, they make wines with elegance and style. I still can't get my mind off how great Malivoire's chardonnays are.

Again, I'm holding firm to my belief that this area is made for Burgundian varietals, the chardonnays and the pinot noirs. You need to grow grapes that ripen early, because we have such a short growing season here and the margin for error is so little. A lot of places we visited produce everything - it's like they want to grow every single varietal in existence. That's ridiculous. There has to be certain grapes that are more suitable for the terroir here, and instead of making 15 kinds of mediocre wines, producers would benefit from focusing on making 5 great wines. Simple philosophy, but some people obviously are more concerned with making money than staying true to the spirit of winemaking.

The area is still in an experimental stage. But it has an advantage. Unlike the Californian wine scene of the 1970's, all the techniques and processes and equipment winemakers need are available. The only thing Canadian winemakers need to focus on doing is working with the terroir, recognizing differences in soil, microclimates, things like that. They need to go back to the basics, and really understand the land. Some folks, which I don't need to name, focus more on how to attract Japanese tourists to their properties.

A good buddy mentioned something to me last night, that really made me take note. He said, "It's all about the wine, not the person behind the counter". It was in reference to the man working at Coyote's Run. I think Rocky was absolutely right. I let my personal feelings get in the way of really getting a good feel for the wine. Coyote's Run couldn't have received its reputation if they didn't produce something worth noting. I will definitely return to the winery again, and this time focus only on the wine.

An interesting thing, which I forgot to mention was that when we were at Creekside, the lady mentioned that their winemaker also produces the Mike Weir and Wayne Gretzky wines. I didn't say anything, but I immediately had this negative perception not only of those wines but also of Creekside's as well. I can appreciate that these 2 celebrities donate the proceeds to charity and they're doing a good thing to promote Niagara, but from a purely wine making point of view, it is an insult to Niagara wine.

Let me explain.

Weir's tournaments take him all over the world. Gretzky coaches in Phoenix. Do you see the problem? How many days a year do you think they spend in Niagara, tending to their wines? You think Weir's going to skip a tournament to take part in the harvest? You think Gretzky can skip a few games to decide when to bottle? That's the problem with these celebrities just slapping their names on anything to make money. Same goes for celebrity perfumes and clothing lines. If you're not serious about committing to something, if you're not willing to spend the time to do something the right way, don't do it at all. It's disrespect to the honest winemakers that are working hard to make a name for themselves. It's absolutely ridiculous!

Let's be very clear: this area holds a lot of promise. If you havn't been up to Niagara wine country, make the trip. It's a short drive, talk to some of the people at the wineries, it'll be interesting even if you aren't really into wine. Experience the area, learn something new, and in 20 years when this region really takes off internationally, you can say that you were there right from the beginning.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feb. 2007 Niagara wine country tour

February 20, 2008, about four and a half months from my last trip down to Niagara. Interesting to see the area in winter, when last time we went, it was still a fairly mild autumn.

I went down this time again with my dear friends, in a group of 6. The purpose for this trip was firstly to enjoy the day with friends and secondly, I wanted to focus on the small, artisanal producers of Niagara.

My original list was for 6 wineries, 2 of which I was quite familiar with. I wanted to focus on the Burgundian varietals chardonnay and pinot noir. Overall, it was a smooth day, we tasted upwards of 80 different wines and everyone arrived home safely. I'll go through the 9 wineries we ended up visiting, and my thoughts on each producer. I don't want this post to be too long.

1. Malivoire Wine Company

Our first stop of the day. They were featured in an LCBO release. The gentlemen inside was friendly, knowledgable and most importantly, honest. He was honest about the harvest, honest about their wine-making philosophy, and honest about recognizing other producers as well. Just a joy to talk to. I started with both their chardonnays, their main line and their more exclusive Moira line. I also tried their pinot noirs. Having gone through a wide spectrum of both red and white wines, I was very, very impressed. You really get a consistent level of aroma, flavour, and quality through their entire line, something that not many wineries can achieve. And the acidity! My goodness, what gusto!! I've never had a better chardonnay, period. PERIOD. Both their single vineyard and lower end bottle is fantastic, just this beautiful blend of fruit and minerality, with this flavour that is intense, focussed and clean. Wonderful. Unfortunately, the price is set quite high. The Moira line, which I was interested in, goes for $36 and up. Can they justify setting the price so high? It's hard to say. I think it's about economics - small vineyard, small yields, you have to at least break even. So yes, I believe that they are over-pricing the wines, but my goodness, what marvelous wines!

2. Flat Rock Cellars

This is one of my favourite producers of pinot noir. I've written about this before, look it up here. This time though, I wanted to try a wider variety of their wine. I tasted their riesling as well as their new Gravity Pinot Noir. The rieslings were good - really noticeable petrol on the nose, but very lively with their trademark acidity. Lovely, just a really classic, well-structured riesling. Their Gravity - I wasn't very impressed. Maybe it was due to storage, since it could have been opened for days. What was most interesting was the pinot noir clone sample she poured me. It was never released for sale, just sort of an experiment by the growers. And it was very interesting, quite unlike the pinot noir they have on the market. I left with 2 bottles of riesling.

3. Creekside Estate Winery

This was not one that we had planned to go to. It was new to me, so I tried almost their entire line. I felt that their blends, both red and white were...ok. They had nice complexity but in a much softer and approachable style. For the beginning wine-drinker. What was more interesting was that the lady there matched us glass for glass. Can't imagine how many bottles the staff there goes through annually!

4. Hernder Estate Wines

This was also a spur of the moment decision. It looked grand on the outside, all wood structures on a very large property. Once we went inside, we realized that they do about 200 weddings a year, as well as make vinegar, jam, fruit liquers, etc....just about everything. The old lady was very nice, so I don't relish saying this; honestly, as honest as I can be, their wine was fucking shit. It was the worst and saddest excuse for wine I've ever tasted. No lie. I mean - I feel embarrased for whoever makes this stuff, because it really is undrinkable. The chardonnay we had is seared into my memory and palate. Incredible amounts of grassiness and vegetal qualities of the worst kind, obscenely underripe and overoaked. Really, quite literally, I'd rather drink original Listerine than this. My goodness. All the weddings they receive must be going to their heads.

5. Henry of Pelham

This estate was a lot of fun. Its a very big producer so naturally, I've never been very much of a fan. But the lady at the bar was so much fun to talk to. She really was. And she refused to charge us for the tasting and even gave us some chocolates for the road. I tasted their entire line of white wines, from their chardonnays to riesling to sauvignon blanc. And I tasted their pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and also their sparkling wine. The sparkling brut was interesting - blend of pinot noir, chardonnay, and petit meunier - the classic Champagne blend, in a golden style, a white wine. It was delicate, a lot of pretty aromas but lacking the more austere quality in a true champagne. It's a shame, I would have bought a bottle. The wines in general were serviceable and non-offensive. Meaning I don't mind drinking them for dinner at all, but nothing that blows my mind. Well, their pinot noir was good. Soft and supple, nice fruit. Overall, I had a good impression of their wines, which goes to show that not all big producers are bad. Of course, the lady there definitely had something to do with changing my perception!

6. Chateau des Charmes

This place again. You know how I feel about this place. But Ming had never been here before, so we just popped in quickly. They had the top of the line blend, the Equuleus, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot. A classic Bordeaux blend. I thought it was interesting, nice fruit and firm structure, but not as concentrated as I'd expect it to be. They also produce a sparkling wine. Overall, my impression has not changed. They make drinkable wines, but nothing to go crazy over.

7. Coyote's Run Estate Winery

I was excited to go here, as I'd heard a lot about this place. But it was arguably the worst experience of the day. The man working there was the cockiest, most stuck up jackass I've ever met. He wouldn't even look me in the eye when I was talking to him. Give me a break. Really, give me a fucking break. Anyways, what was interesting about this winery was that for their chardonnays, the winemaker uses Hungarian oak barrels, instead of the more typical French or American. It's the first place I know that openly admits to using them. Their wines in general, the chardonnay and pinot noir - again, a more fruit-forward, juicy wine. I just don't get a sense of style, besides the noticeable spiciness of the Hungarian oak. Maybe because he was sucking all the fun out of the room.

8. Lailey Vineyard

This is another producer that I'm familiar with, whose pinot noir I used to believe was Niagara's best. This time - maybe its the storage again, or the icy cold woman behind the counter. But it lacks the focus, the intensity of Flat Rock's pinot noir. It's still a good wine, but maybe my taste has changed since last July. It's still wonderful. What was disappointing was that she wouldn't open a bottle of cabernet franc for me to taste. What the hell. I didn't know what I needed to do to get her to let me taste it. So I didn't buy anything.

9. Peller Estates

Again, another big winery, a huge property, with a restaurant, offices and ballroom. Our last stop of the day. It looked really nice instead - beautiful tasting room, lots of wine accessories on sale. So I was a bit leery about their wine. Turns out I was right about this one. I don't understand their use of oak, a theme that runs across their entire line. Much too manipulated, just too much oak. So much that for some wines, you have to dig really deep to find the fruit, and at times, you just can't. But the top of the line, the Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon fared better. Nice nose of red fruits, nicely concentrated with still a tight core. But, hints of smokiness and tar are coming out. This 2002 still needs some age. Their sparkling wine has a good story - they use their vidal icewine as a dosage, after they disgorge the yeast. The nose is all icewine. It lacks complexity and I think it's too much - this is a demi-sec. I don't agree with the philosophy of this producer. To me, they seem like they organize their lines according to wine-making method, instead of vineyard selection. I disagree firmly with that. The winemaker doesn't make the wine, the vineyards do. A lot of the differentiation of their wines comes with whether they ferment in stainless steel or oak barrels, how long they age in oak, and whether they bottle age in their cellars before they release they wines.

In Conclusion:

I thoroughly enjoyed the day. We had a lot of wine, learned some new things about the area, and have a clearer picture of the differences in terroir. And there is a clear difference between the Beamsville area and the area around the Niagara River. This is getting too long, but I will post some pictures up, as soon as Rocky sends them my way. Next post, I still have some things to say about Niagara as a whole.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1999 Pol Roger Brut Rose Champagne

Just came back from Fairview's LCBO. Thankfully, the people who live in that area are.........let's just say non-wine drinkers. That's why theres still 9 bottles of this vinage champagne left, when BV ran out long ago.

I've always, for some reason, had this affinity for Pol Roger. I've tasted a bottle of their non-vintage cuvee and I have a bottle of their 1996 blancs de blancs vintage. Apparently, 1996 was a great vintage for champagne houses, so I'm saving that for something special. Maybe for when I finally build the cellar of my dreams.

Rose champagnes have always fascinated me. Maybe it's that aspect of blending white and black grapes. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I really, really love champagne. I don't think people have the right mindset when they approach champagne. Hell, most people still call every sparkling wine they see a 'champagne'. Everything NOT made in the Champagne region of France is NOT CALLED CHAMPAGNE!!!!!

Also, apologies for the terrible quality of these photos. I'm taking them using my cell phone, and I can never get the lighting or the focus to work properly. My apologies.

Finally, I bought this bottle using the gift certificates that my wonderful roommates bought for me for Christmas. Thanks very much!


I'm preparing for our trip to Niagara tomorrow, and I'm checking my bank account to see how much wine I can afford to buy. Turns out after the 2005 Bordeaux Futures payments, and then the Glenfarclas Collection payment, and then the Pol Roger, I'll have exactly $28 left to spend on wine. Nice.

Today, I'm heading out to Fairview Mall's LCBO to pick up a bottle of 1998 Pol Roger Brut Rose Champagne. I really love Pol Roger and I'd kill myself if they all sold out. $88.20.

My bottle of Glenfarclas scotch should be arriving sometime at the end of the month, or early March. It's a bottle of 1986 vintage scotch, just bottled last year, very rare and very special. $390.

My 2005 Bordeaux Futures are arriving in mid to late April. I have 24 bottles coming in, from 6 estates. They are:

Ch. La Lagune
Ch. L'Arrosee
Ch. Coutet
Ch. Rauzan Gassies
Ch. Carbonnieux
Ch. Haut Bergey

Total cost: too depressing to mention.

Between the LCBO and UW tuition, I'm totally wiped out. I mean really, just emptied. My tax return can't arrive soon enough.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A natural disposition

Quickly, before my friends arrive for dinner.

Why do I always end up swearing here? I don't do it on purpose, to be edgy or anything. I don't think I swear a lot in real life.

It occured to me last night how quickly I get fired up whenever I start talking about wine. I suppose it's like that for anything you're truly passionate about. That word gets thrown around a lot, and it's lost a lot of its meaning. Anyways, I was talking to Mr. Zhang about wine and I was waving and gesticulating so much that I almost smacked the person sitting next to me in the face. I get lost when I start talking about this stuff. Really, I'm in my own world.

I've discovered that anything can get me going. Somehow everything to me relates to wine. Weather. Soil. Economics. Financial markets. France. English. Tropicana. Anything can get me going. Normally I'm pretty laid back, low key, but wine just makes me this intense beast, pouncing on anyone or anything that doesn't agree with my views. Yes, I don't compromise, and I truly believe that I'm always right.

So, back to my question. I think I swear because I feel so strongly about certain things. Like grape growing. And wine-making. And marketing. I don't think I'm quick to judge wines, but when I've made up my mind, it either is mind-blowingly great, or the worst shit ever created. There is no middle ground. Well, actually there is, but where's the fun in that?

Having said that, please don't take offense, I only curse because I'm filled with love and tenderness, as my roommates can testify to.

A weekend of wine

Reading week is underway and for some reason, I have yet to leave the house. A lot of crazy things are happening, and strangely, they all have to do with bad backs. First, my mother sprained her back. Then my father sprained his neck and back. It all coincided with me picking up my uncle, a family friend, from the airport, who was suffering from severe back pain. Unbelievable.

Anyways, I had a lot of wine this weekend, both good and bad. On Friday, I headed to LCBO to pick up some wines. My cellar is full of wines that I want to keep for a while, so I wanted to search out some $15 wines to try out. I wanted an Argentinian, but for some reason, I came back with 2 Spanish Riojas, a Chilean red blend, and a Loire Valley red. I was particularly excited about the Loire, because it was a new release and quite nicely priced too. And then I opened it.

The nose was overwhelmingly sweaty and hot, not unlike a terrible Eric Louis I had last week, also from the Loire Valley. It was also incredibly oaky - way too much oak. The same followed on the palate, this unripe, overly woody shit. I mean, this wine is really shit. There isn't anything else to say about it. I was thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed for the producer, Dom. Laurent Mabileau, AC St-Nicolas-De-Bourgueil. These people should be ashamed of themselves for producing this stuff. I mean, I would rather pour this stuff down the drain and take a loss, rather then put it on the market with my name on it. Fucking unbelievable.

Saturday was better. Much better. My mother cooked up a classic Shanghainese meal, of mostly fish. We had fish soup, steamed fish, and a pork, slowly simmered for 5 hours. For wine, I opened a bottle of Chinese rice spirits, possibly the only Chinese drink that I really, really love. Unfortunately, I can't type Chinese characters on this computer, so I've included a picture. I know at least one of my buddies knows this wine. It was beautiful. Full and rich, hint of spiciness with this really great sweet quality to it, and a long, long finish. I now firmly believe that there is no better complement to Chinese food than this wine. I don't care what you say about which varietals pair well with Asian flavours, NOTHING beats having Chinese spirits with Chinese food. Period.

Since the hosts were sick last week, we had our Chinese New Year's dinner with our family friends on Sunday. In the afternoon, I had to go pick up my uncle from the airport, so I was the last to arrive. The first wine I was given was a Cotes du Rhone. I don't remember the producer. Nice fruit, quite typical of the region, nothing surprising. I tried to be gracious and remembered that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for wine. The host is a wine drinker, but a very casual one. The kind that's easily influenced by what the LCBO markets. The next bottle was one from the LCBO's '90+' release. It was a Cyan, a Spanish red wine. Again, nice fruit, really ripe tannins, enough force to catch your attention. This was a good wine, again nothing to blow your mind with, but well made and well priced. The third wine was a horrible choice. Horrible. And I don't say that in a mean way because Mr. Zhang is a genuinely nice person, and an extremely generous host. But he picked up a German pinot noir. Now, I saw the bottle and I was intrigued. I knew that the Germans produced small quantities of red wine, but a pinot noir? I have to say that going in, I was biased already. Come on, you see how much I fawn over Niagara pinot noirs, so the bar was set pretty high, for any pinot noir not coming out of Burgundy. I smelled it and I said, no way in hell am I drinking this. It was that revolting. This oaky, candy-like smell to it. Just not right.

Anyways, during dinner, Mr. Zhang and myself had a long conversation about wine-making. He makes his own wine using those kits that you can buy. I've tasted it, and I only said that it was ok because I didn't want to seem like an arrogant asshole. But I think that these home wine-making kits are a waste of time and money. Thats all I have to say about that.

I'm really excited about what's coming up. I want to plan a trip up to Niagara again, visit some new properties. And I'm planning to buy a bottle of 1998 Pol Roger Brut Rose, using the gift certificates that my sis and bebe bought me. Last time I checked, the Fairview Mall LCBO had 8 bottles left, so that's the first thing I'm going to do tomorrow.

Friday, February 15, 2008


It should be obvious by now that my wine blog doesn't have many wine reviews. The simple reason is that I don't like doing them. If you want tasting notes for wines, search out any of the tons of generic bullshit that these self-described 'experts' write up.

I only write about a certain bottle if there's something I really find exciting or interesting about it. You won't find a running journal of everything I've tasted.

Just wanted to make that clear.

2003 CH. Faizeau, AC Montagne Saint-Emilion

This is another wine that I've tasted before, that really fascinates me. Now, I've heard of many people call this a value-driven wine. Let's be perfectly clear and honest here - whoever says that is full of shit.

This is a $32.70 bottle of wine. Now, unless you're of certain tax-bracket, this is not a good value. But, this is a good bottle of wine - not great, but still quite interesting.

The wine is I believe, 100% merlot, or close to it. This area, on the right bank of Bordeaux, is after all, the birthplace of merlot. The appellation is called Montagne Saint-Emilion, quite an obscure area. I tried the 2001 vintage of this wine. At the time, I didn't have a good idea of the area, or the producer, and I was just curious. It turned out to be one of those times where my curiosity led to something good.

Of the 2001, I remember deep, plush fruit, really great structure, and this complexity that makes you have to work to identify all the components. The 2003 didn't turn out to be so transcendant, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it very much.

In the glass, this wine is deep, deep purple. This is extremely concentrated. The colour stays saturated all the way to the rim, as to give an indication of how young this wine still is. On the nose, which is very powerful by the way, you get impressions of cherries and ripe red fruits, and some toastiness to it. Again, this reflects on the palate, with very ripe, albeit monstrous tannins. This is a heavyweight, a 14% wine, that isn't necessarily overripe and fruit-driven, but it is still very tight. I wanted to see how it would react after a day, so after about 24 hours, I thought it improved. A very noticeable blackcurrant jam on the nose, but the tannins are still very very firm. Clearly, this wine isn't going to soften up for another 5-10 years, but I can only see it improving.

What's interesting is that this wine is offered as futures. The 2005 futures cost $23.80 a bottle, and the 2006 a bit more expensive. Is this a good investment for the cellar? I don't know. It's not an overly complex wine, nor does it have a spectacular finish, two things that I look for when I want to put something away. I havn't purchased any. I would love to have seen how this wine shows as it ages. To me, this wine is a question mark for the cellar.

2006 Flat Rock Cellars pinot noir

Finally, now that midterms are more or less finished, I have some time to write. And I have a lot of things I need to catch up on.

Let's start with a wine I tasted about 2 weeks ago. As I posted earlier, Flat Rock Cellars is a relatively new winery in Jordan, Ontario, in the Twenty Mile Bench appellation. It's just outside of the Niagara peninsula. I visited this property last October, and I was very impressed with the wines I tasted, a pinot noir and a pinot noir rose. They make really honest, earthy wines, the type that really, really cuts into your palate.

The 2006 vintage of their pinot noirs were just released to LCBO. After visiting the actual winery and watching the harvest take place, I really gained a new appreciation for the region, and this is definitely a winery that I will continue to follow.

The wine had a beautiful light, pomegranate-like colour. On the nose, there's this amazing mix of ripe berries, red fruits, earth, and roots. It follows on the palate, with tons of earthy gravel, and what is this winery's trademark - racy acidity. I can't describe how amazing this acidity is. It really makes the wine. It's refreshing, it immediately focuses the flavours of the wine and it's just so, so intense. Again, I find it amazing, given the light nature of the wine, and the 12.2% alcohol. Noticeable nutiness and a great finish on this wine as well.

I've become a huge fan of this winery. The winemaker here is making wine the right way, the proper way. I truly believe that the wine here is underpriced. Certainly, I will need to visit again, hopefully sometime in the next week. If you still have any doubt about the quality of Niagara pinot noir, just try this bottle. It reaffirms that there still are a few good winemakers out there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News feature and update!

Had a very pleasant surprise the other day. I'll quickly share it, then I'll go back to my books.

An English major emailed me a few days ago. She was doing a piece for one of her classes. She was searching for a wine blog and something here caught her eye. We talked and she had a very sweet voice so I was interested. Anyways, she wanted to discuss wine in general with me. It was great - we touched a variety of areas, like how I got into wine, a few memorable experiences, and of course, I had to include my opinion about Niagara wine and icewine. Definitely, I was going off-topic and ranting a bit, but I think I gave her some good stuff to write about.

Also, as you may have noticed, I've updated the blog description, just under the main title. I think it now better represents what I'm about. No compromise, no bullshit.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I'm right in the middle of midterms right now, so I really am not in the mood to write. I can't seem to find the time or focus, and I don't want to post garbage on here, so I'm taking a few days off.

I'll post again on Friday. Next couple of posts will be on 3 bottles of wine that I've tasted recently, which I've found to be quite sensational. They are a Flat Rock pinot noir, a Marynissen cabernet/merlot, and a Ch. Faizeau.

Once again, it's snowing outside, apparently we're going to receive about 20 cm. We're really getting pounded this year.

So please, stay tuned, I will have my next post up no later than noon on Friday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

It's that time of year again. I think for me, this is one of the most special holidays. Because it's one of those times that I really think about my family, not just my immediate family here, but all my family in China, Japan, and Australia. And of course, I can't forget my cousin Connie, who's now in Lyon.

It's also a time for lots of great food. Anyone who's at all familiar with Chinese culture knows the importance we place on food, especially for our new year's celebrations. And of course, it's time to drink not red wine, or white wine for that matter, but Chinese spirits. We have various types of rice wine, hard to find in North America, but I can't imagine a better partner for Chinese food.

Lots of midterms this week and next, but I'm making a short one day stop in Toronto to have dinner with my family, then I'm hurrying back out.

In the meantime, I wish you all prosperity and health in the New Year!

Friday, February 1, 2008




In a rut.

I am in a rut. Personally, and well, avec le vin.

You ever feel like you're bored out of your mind with your life? I'm feeling that now - big time. It seems that with every bottle I'm opening, I'm becoming more and more..........disillusioned I guess. It's not that I've been having bad wines - it's just that none of them have been great wines.

I firmly believe that every once in a while, for special occasions or whatever, you're entitled to enjoy a really great bottle of wine. I mean, a really magnificent wine, the kind that reaffirms why you fell in love with wine in the first place. Off the top of my head, I think I can recall maybe 3 or 4 bottles that did that for me, that makes you go WOW when you take a sip. And that hasn't happened to me since last spring, when we opened that bottle of 1986 Chateau La Lagune. So you see why I'm getting a little antsy.

My confidence in wine was shaken big time last term, around November. I had bought 3 bottles - a Chilean pinot noir, a 2004 Croix du Mayne AC Cahors, and a red Minervois. The Chilean and Cahors both turned out to be corked. It completely blew me away that I would open two bad ones back to back - this kind of thing just shouldn't be happening with today's bottling techniques and materials. Luckily, LCBO has a great policy for returning corked wines. And I ended up picking up a great bottle of Morgon, for around $30.

But I havn't had anything really memorable since early last year. Sure, going to France was great, but again, nothing really special. The wine I drank there was good, no doubt, but I was still hoping for more.

So what to do? I'd love to be able to go out, and grab a $70 bottle of Pommard, but of course, with my current financial situation - that'd be like writing cheques that you know will bounce. However, relief is on the way, in the form of my 2005 Bordeaux futures. They should be arriving in April, either early in the month or towards the middle. Hopefully.

Having made the committment and paying half the deposit already, I'm really excited for their arrival. It's a big moment for me - my first futures purchase, the first of hopefully many to come. And the very first thing I'm going to do is open a bottle, just to reassure myself that all this interest in wine is worth it.