Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2001 Jean Luc Colombo ''Le Prieuré'', AC St-Joseph.
A very special bottle to me. A Northern Rhone wine that I bought 2 years ago. This one's unfortunately a bit oxidized, or similarly damaged. Bad storage, shame on me.
100% syrah. Decanted for 6 hours. Deep saturation, deep purple core. Lively. Beautiful floral nose, lots of blackberries and dark cherries. Pure. Very sharp palate, quite acidic. A wonderful food wine. A bit listless in the mouth. Develops graphite notes. Are we sure this is not a Bordeaux? Not a lot of varietal typicity, unfortunately.
A good footnote to the last bottle of wine I'll open in 2008. Maybe it didn't really live up to expectations, but no matter. It fulfilled its purpose, nonetheless.
Simple dinner tonight. Not a time to be extravagant. Having a Northern Rhone wine, a St. Joseph from Jean Luc Columbo. Maybe toast the New Year with some port. Otherwise, a muted celebration. If you can call it that.
Happy New Year to all!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wines of Provence: Drank many humble, local wines in Nice, and they were perfect in that setting. Simple wines to go with rustic dishes, what could be more fitting? And yes, I drank a fair share of Provencal rosé. Best memory was the red wine I had with my entrecote. The name of the wine? Un verre de vin rouge.
2005 Chateau Morin, AC St-Estephe: My introduction to the 2005 Bordeaux vintage. One of the first 2005's released by LCBO at the time. More importantly, shared it over dinner with a lovely girl. Alas, the affection was one-sided.
2001 Chateau de Monbazillac: Another new region tasted, of the same namesake. An intensely, minerally sweet wine, a reminder that good desert wines don't necessarily have to be from Sauternes.
NV Champagne Drappier Brut, Carte D'Or: We opened this bottle for my mother's birthday. Who says rich and creamy Champagne has to cost over $50?
2006 Flat Rock Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench: What a revelation for me, perception-wise, about Niagara red wines! Earthy, intense, balanced wine that bowled me over.
2002 Marynissen Cabernet/Merlot, VQA Niagara: Likewise, this proves that Niagara can produce wines of density, purity, and longevity. Too bad no one else has figured it out yet.
2001 Beronia, DOC Rioja Reserva: Enjoyed over dinner at a friend's place, with lots of food and laughter. Earthy, complex - the wine that made me pause for a minute amidst all the mirth, in contemplation.
2005 Chateau La Gasparde, AC Cotes de Castillon: What more can I say about this wine, and the Cotes de Castillon. Absolutely my favourite wine of the year. So intense, so rich, so dense, so complex. Inky dark, floral and fresh. Immense aging potential. It blows my mind that this wine is $15. Cotes de Castillon needs to be recognized for the amazing merlot-dominated wines it produces. What a wine!
2003 Couly-Dutheil "La Baronnie Madeleine", AC Chinon: After a few disappoints from the Loire, this was the wine that got me hooked on the region, and restored my faith. Unabashedly green and vegetal, but so complex and interesting. Lots of regional typicity, this is undeniably Chinon.
2003 Marques de Riscal, DOC Rioja Reserva: Wrapped in a net, I was afraid of a gimicky wine, but this was anything but. Rustic, rich, with subtle oak - this is a wine only Rioja can produce!
2004 Castellani Burchina Antiche Tenute, DOC Chianti Superiore: With all the controversy in Tuscany, can we trust sangiovese wines anymore? I'm willing to, based on how this wine drank. Dusty tannins, earthy cherries, the archetype of fine sangiovese.
2005 Cantine Grotta Del Sole, DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio: Of all the places to find a Lacryma Christi, I find this in Yokohama. In Japan, for goodness! So fragrant, high acidity, earthy wines that speak of the hot clay, high altitude, and the rustic Italian countryside.
2006 Thirty Bench Wine Maker's Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench: My first wine from this estate, instantly mesmerized. Racy acidity, almost aggressive - who else but a visionary could craft such a wine? The saviour of Niagara.
2004 Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula: After some bottle age, what complexities you have developed! Unmistakable Niagara nose of hot clay and cherries, perfectly balanced. I piss on this estate all the time, but this is the one wine they make I absolutely love.
NV Champagne Gardet, Cuvée Foudres Selected Reserve, AC Chigny-Les-Roses: With all the extended time on the lees before disgorging, this wine is like reduced nose of Champagne. So yeasty, so minerally, so.......incredibly unique. Bread, anyone?
1999 Bodegas Lan, DOC Rioja Reserva: Anyone who thinks these wines can't age in the bottle can shove one up their................Absolutely delicious red berries and floral notes, dusty tannins, fine texture. So much life let, this is barely adolescent.
2007 Lailey Pinot Noir, barrel sample: We had good fortune to taste this wine out of barrel in the Lailey cellars. A wine for Niagara history, in the best vintage ever seen. Intense, tannic, but with beautiful balance and fruit. The Lailey style, but speaks so much of Niagara. Thank you for the taste, and for the insight.
1991 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, AC Pauillac: How many times in your life can you say that you've tasted a Premier Grand Cru Classe? This is one of those times. Even in a weak vintage, great Bordeaux always shows its pedigree. It just builds and builds in an arcing crescendo of hot clay, mocha, and dried fruits. So complex, so warm - a wine that entrances you and leaves you with a hauntingly long finish. I'll never forget this wine.
1980 Kopke Colheita Port: Drinking wine older than you should be a mandatory experience for everyone who denies the spirituality of wine. Such a complex wine: caramel, toffee, with a crunch wafer finish. Heady.
2006 Shalestone Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes: What a surprise - great red wine from the Finger Lakes. A surprise, given all the shit we tasted our whole time there. Shit, that the Americans attempted to pass off as wine. But this cabernet franc, well........amazing. Great density, that tightness. Wow! Thank you Rob, you never really know what treasures you'll find when you keep an open mind.
2002 Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken, Ockfener Bockstein, QmP Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: I love these grand statements that white wine can't age, and shouldn't be aged. True Wine Drinkers know better. Intense minerality, great riesling characters, an age-worthy wine that was opened 10 years too soon.
NV Champagne Chapuy, Brut Reserve Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru: To celebrate the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So untrue, that Grand Cru, 100% chardonnay Champagne has to be expensive. A lovely wine for a momentous occasion.
1994 Schloss Schonborn Riesling, QbA Rheingau: With this wine, my love for German rieslings is official. So rich, so complex, but yet, this wine is so alive! And still quite young. Perfect balance in the minerality, citrus notes, acidity, and slight sweetness.
1998 Bolla ''Le Origini'', DOC Amarone Della Valpolicella: Saved for sentimental reasons. Amarone can be too much when young - this is perfect. Dried prunes and currants, great acidity, what a wonderful accompaniment to dinner!
1999 Domaine Huet Brut, AC Vouvray: France produces so many excellent sparkling wines besides Champagne, and I'm going to try them all. This one's been kept for some time. Deep golden, buttery, with lots of citrus zest. Fine mousse, to compete with the best of Champagne.
2005 Lailey Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula: The greatness of Niagara, exemplified. Still tight, still tannic. Great intensity of colour, with brambly complexity. A wine for the cellar, and a great success.
2000 Chateau Franc-Maillet, AC Pomerol: When the esteemed J&PC come over for dinner, what else but the finest Bordeaux will do? An old-fashioned, sensible wine. Lots of vegetal complexities, but with great fruit holding it up. Still tight, but very ripe tannins from a great year.
1999 Chateau Potensac, AC Medoc: A wine from my first serious Bordeaux purchase. Close to my heart. Elegant, classic claret.
1981 Kopke Colheita Port: I have the great fortune to taste not one, but two old ports. A bit tougher than the 1980, but still interesting nonetheless. The finish on these wines......................
2002 Marynissen Cabernet, VQA Niagara: These people should be commended on their ability to coax the most out of their cabernet, in such difficult climates. Rich and fully ripe, but with fantastic green flavours that you find only in the best clarets. The 50% cabernet franc does marvelous work. A wine, again, to cellar away for 7-15.
2005 Thirty Bench ''Triangle Vineyard'' Riesling: Is this a German riesling I'm tasting? Niagara needs to build its reputation on these wines - complex, intense rieslings, with lots of minerality and substance. I will pay any amount of money for these wines. Ageworthy as well.
Monday, December 29, 2008
We started off with 3 glasses of NV Champagne Louis de Sacy, Grand Cru. Lacking a bit of weight, but fresh and lively, smoky and perfect as an aperitif. We enjoyed it with a first course of tossed greens, and foie gras. The foie gras was a bit too tender, very rich. Reminds you why you can only have this dish once a year, because my cholesterol must have been through the roof after eating it.
For our mains, we drank 2002 Inniskillin Montague Estate Pinot Noir. As I've written about previously, I've drank and enjoyed the 2004. This is probably my only chance to taste previous vintages, so I'm willing to pay for it. It's dark, much darker than the already browning 2004. Rich nose of earth, bramble, that characteristic hot Niagara clay, and beautiful red berries dancing around the glass. Tight structure, quite tannic in fact. Beautiful, lustrous.....what a surprise! A fantastic, delicate wine that has great aging potential, I wish I could find a few more bottles! Surpasses any of the 2004 Niagara pinot noirs I've had. Great vintage character.
We drank the wine with lobster tagliatelle, steak au poivre, and pan-seared bass. All the dishes were exquisite. The lobster tagliatelle was so flavoursome, freshly made pasta makes such a huge difference. The steak was tender, what's memorable is the huge bone they served, so you could scoop out the rich marrow inside. So, so decadent, the marrow just oozes down your throat. My bass was perfectly cooked, subtly flavoured, with great texture. Firm, but so plump. Absolutely delicious.
This meal was lavish, yes. But we were determined to close out the year properly. A meal like this once a year is needed, to rejuvenate and replenish. I got pretty tipsy from all the fantastic wine, but the room was dark. Beautiful setting, beautiful food........my palate was singing from the decadence.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thirty Bench is proving itself to be an exceptional producer of dry white wines. Beamsville is the right location - great acidity, great minerality from the limestone, and attracting the right people. And did I mention that Thirty Bench has one of the most well-designed wine labels I've ever seen in a New World producer?
These wines have finesse and elegance, but rippingly high amounts of acidity. I'm fascinated to see how well they age. 2007 is proving to be worth the hype - the wines from this vintage are some of the best I've ever tasted, and that goes across the majority of Niagara producers.
I'm excited for this producer. They only started producing these single vineyard rieslings in 2005, so we're watching from the very beginning. Give them 1o years, when they have a bit more of a track record, and these wines will be able to compete against the best the Mosel and Alsace can offer. That's how highly I think of these wines, and my friends will tell you how much I love German rieslings.
Ahh, icewine. I've never made secret my skepticism about icewine as a premium desert wine, and I made that clear to Alex. He thinks I don't taste it properly - I think Ontario wine makers are overhyping it, overpricing it, and too overeager to look over its deficiencies.
This wine was excellent. But it doesn't change the fact that icewine is still a one-dimensional, honeyed wine, that doesn't improve with age, and it shockingly far too expensive.
We tasted the 2007 Riesling Icewine, the 1996 Riesling Icewine, and the 2007 Cabernet Icewine. All showed off Thirty Bench's fantastic acidity, and good fruit characters. But nothing really beyond fruit and honey. I enjoyed them - these icewines have a purity to them. It's just pure fruit, no nonsense that hides or obstructs it. And the 1996 is holding up extremely well, with a long life ahead of it. It's just that these 12 years have failed to add any significant complexities.
It wasn't my decision to buy one. And I still think that Niagara region needs to build its reputation on riesling and pinot noir, not icewine. But these wines are so pure, I'll make an exception. How does $75 for a half-bottle sound? I paid $78 for a full bottle of 2007 Chateau Guiraud, one of the top producers of Sauternes, in one of the top vintages. Let's taste them together in a few years and see how right I am.
This was not my favourite, but I loved its purity. It has great varietal characteristics, with an elegance and a soft, plush texture. Much more feminine than the other wines - wait, no, that's the wrong impression. All these wines are feminine - this one just seems like the more gentle sister of the other wines. This caresses you, massages you a little. Beautiful.
This was my favourite wine the last time I visited. Intense, steely, just like its name.
The 2007 showed off as being a bit richer, a bit fuller, a bit denser. Great finesse, but just more presence. There's a lot of potential for this wine to develop a bit more, in terms of minerality and complexity. Previous vintages I've tasted have showed fabuously, so I'm not concerned about this one.
This was a surprise for me, and was my favourite of their rieslings. The top cuvee, I drank the 2007 first. Very linear - this wine cuts your palate, showing great fruit, but also great focus and clarity. Good - there really is nothing bad to hide. Like a slender woman with the perfect hips and waist, with no need for such things as pleats to cover up any flaws. Perfection.
The 2005 was much more complex, more mineral, with more overt petrol and richness. Lovely, dusty texture, with that intense acidity. Really excellent, and this wine excited me out of my seat.
These are wines to put away. I'll see you in 7-10.
I fell in love, absolutely head over heels, with Thirty Bench the first time I tasted their wines. I last visited in June of this year, and it reaffirmed my belief that they make the greatest rieslings in North America. This is a world-class property, producing outstanding wines, wines that are as complex, fragrant, and ageworthy as some of the greatest rieslings of Europe.
We were late for our appointment - trying to drive through fog as thick as plump swells of cotton candy will make you late for anything. I called in to apologize, and the man on the other end of the phone began our conversation by saying, "Thanks for calling, what can I do to make your day better?"
We were given glasses of their 2007 Wine Maker's Riesling, the estate riesling. An absolute smashing success for an $18 wine, delicate and fruit-forward, mouthwateringly acidic. Beautiful.
Alex showed us the fermenting tanks, we couldn't go outside because the rain was starting to come down. We went through all four "Small Lot" rieslings from the different parcels, and Alex poured me two vintages of their Triangle Vineyard riesling, the top cuvee. Also, I wanted to taste the pinot gris, and Alex was kind enough to pour us all three icewines, two 2007 and one 1996. Excellent!
After going through, I am utterly convinced in the high quality of the rieslings. Pure wines, with great depth and complexity, and forget what anyone tells you - these wines can age forever. Came home with a case. Going to have to tighten the belt come January, but let's salvage 2008 and end the year on a high note. My last winery visit of 2008 was an incredible learning experience, and so was my last wine purchase of the year! Definitely will be going back soon, this property is definitely one to keep your eyes on.
---Rant on ahead.
And that little prick in the mod-on-a-budget FastandtheFurious Camry deserves to have his license suspended. You know, you're not gangsta when you install shit body kits that have pre-cut holes for two exhausts when you only have one, and when the colour of the kit doesn't match the body. You're just a little wannabe white boy trying to emulate Asian ricer cool. Not going to happen. You look like a f*cking idiot, and a cheap one at that. And I STILL cut you off, even though you tried your hardest to deny me entry, even though it was the right thing to do because the road to the bridge was closed. Ass. If this little boy was driving in Toronto, he'd be pwned into the lake.
Anyways......I'm a bit irate, a bit jittery, and very relieved that we made it back in one piece. Got a case of wine from Thirty Bench. Had a fantastic lunch at Old Winery Restaurant. Now, dinner, and then I'll start writing up some worthwhile notes.
Came out on what was possibly the most foggiest day in Canadian history. It was so foggy you literally couldn't see the car in front of you. Scary driving, but we made it to Thirty Bench, albeit 40 minutes late. But Alex was a good sport about it.
It was a good day. We drank lots of fantastic wines. And I mean A LOT. Did not make use of the spit bucket. I emulated one of my friends today, you know who you are!
Going to sleep soon, I am exhausted. Sleeping in tomorrow, definitely. I think we'll enjoy lunch at Old Winery Restaurant tomorrow, then maybe visit Flat Rock to see whether the 2007 pinot noirs are available. Then, back to Toronto - after all, all is back to normal on Monday.
A more detailed writeup on the wines and the food Sunday afternoon, back safe in Toronto. Staying overnight in Niagara isn't so bad. But this place is full of vulgar people, just full of them.........
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I am all good and buzzed now, from dinner. Glasses of Champagne and a good 2/3 of a bottle of Niagara pinot noir will do that for you. Nice.
We visited Thirty Bench today, had a very productive tasting. I think I kind of busted his balls a bit, didn't mean to, but I hate it when people feed you bullshit and try to convince you that it tastes good.
Had a magnificent dinner at Tiara restaurant, at Queen's Landing hotel. Lavish, yes, but absolutely worth it. Our server was a sweetheart, even though she mistake the tagliatelle for gnocchi. Vintage Niagara pinot noir is stunning.
More wine tonight? I don't know. I have a bottle of Monbazillac, but don't know if I can take it. After all, I don't want to puke out all the wonderful food I've eaten tonight. I think.........I'm just going to go to sleep. I sleep like I'm dead.
Kind of drunk right now, not making any sense. Will write more in detail when I get my tasting ntoes in order, and of course, when I'm sober. Long live good wine and food! Long live Niagara!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Grape Radio is pumping out so many video podcasts on Champagne, it's hard to keep up. But I love it. Of course, it'd be even better if the content included some tasting, and more things in the vineyard besides almost exclusively video of people talking, but it's better than nothing. Grape Radio produces the best wine videos outside of LCBO anyways.
Packing for Niagara tomorrow. The only reason I agreed to go is because we're visiting some great wineries, and we're going out to an extravagant dinner. Let's be honest - an overnight stay at Niagara isn't exactly high on excitement.
The Cesseras were wonderful tonight. They're wines that really open up and become even more complex - how many sub-$20 wines can do that?
Our first appointment is at 11am tomorrow, at Thirty Bench. That means a departure time of about 9:45, meaning I have to get up around 8:30. Despite having to wake up at such an unreasonably early time on a Saturday, I'm still going to get blazingly drunk tonight. A votre sante!
It's funny, when you're still in school, holidays seem to go by so fast. This year's holidays seem to be going in slow motion - this is only the 2nd day I've been off, and it seems much longer. Taking it easy, resting and eating a lot.
Had the first of my usually numerous spirited disagreements with my father this morning. If someone insists on talking to you like you're an 8 year old, at what point do you start tuning out everything they say?
Going to Niagara tomorrow. I'll be popping into Thirty Bench and Flat Rock to see if any of the 2007 wines have been released, and hopefully to taste some nice things! Please, please, please, have the 2007 Thirty Bench Steel Post Rieslings available!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The focus was on the Montelana Chardonnay. That's my next goal - to get bottles of Montelana chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Relatively speaking, it's not as ridiculously priced as other Californian wines.
A dual vintage, 2002/2003 Chateau Cesseras, AC Minervois La Liviniere. There's a story to these particular wines. These are the first wines that I bought in multiple bottles - I fell in love with the 2002, and it was the first wine that I really wanted to put away. So here it is. I've had these wines for nearly 3 years - still waiting for LCBO to release the 2004.
Starting with the 2002: A dark, inky colour, full saturation to the rim. Intense, rustic nose, with lots of Provencal flowers and dark fruits. Earthy, and definitely a more old-world, farmer's wine. I'm transported back to the hillsides of Provence. Very lean on the palate, great acidity. Rustic qualities carry through. Bitter, herbal finish. Fine tannins, silky texture. My favourite of the two.
The 2003: Again, very dark. Much more fruit-forward, indicative of the vintage. Fresh, red berries on the nose. Again, very lean on the palate. Floral, but bitter finish. Dry tannins, and much more perceptible than the 2002.
You clearly see the familial qualities in both wines, but each show off the vintage very well. A nice, austere example of natural winemaking. Let's be honest - I'm not blown away by either wine, but it's an extremely interesting exercise in how vintage conditions can affect a wine. They're so similar in the mouth, but they have radically different bouquets.
It's funny - my father and I both felt the 2002 was the better of the two. More rustic, more old-fashioned, more complex. My mother liked the 2003. More upfront fruit, juicier, fresher. Always a very educational thing to taste different vintages together. Now, where's the 2004?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I realize that what's most important to me is my family and dear friends. The fact that my goal in life isn't necessarily to become extraordinarily wealthy, or famous, but rather to enjoy the simple things with the people that mean most to me.
Christmas means something else for me this year. You don't realize it until............. For my grandfather, who's still in hospital. For my friends, and friends' families who are ailing. Christmas this year, to me, is about supporting and thinking about people I love the most, and treasuring every moment you have together.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, 24th, I was in Nice, enjoying the carol singers and oysters. But I won't complain. Can't.
Merry Christmas, to family, to friends, to everyone that's been a part of my life this year. Thing's are only going to get rougher, but that's life, isn't it. Merry Christmas, and good tidings to all.
The bottom was a very pleasant surprise, from another friend. Chablis, Premier Cru. You know how all Wine Drinkers will tell you their true love is Burgundian wines? Well, you need money to get into Burgundy. Maybe this is a start...
Dinner tonight at a family friend's home. I'll try to control myself, but whenever I go to these dinners, always end up drinking too much. I suppose, all in the name of the holidays.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Didn't want to open anything tonight, so drank some port with dinner. I have this issue with people who insist that sweet wines don't go with food. They match well as long as the wine has good acidity, something true for all great wines.
1981 Kopke Colheita Port. I think it went beautifully with the mostly vegetable and tofu dishes we were having. Fantastic herbal nose, which differentiates it from the 1980. Not as full or rich, but great toffee and caramel aromas. Great acidity in the mouth, and a long nutty finish. The almost licorice quality in the Chinese celery we were eating brought out the lovely herbal quality on the palate as well.
First time drinking port with dinner, and it matched well.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Many people, some who's opinions I value, and others not so much, have told me that it's too long. Maybe they're on to something.
But it costs money to get your hair cut. I just went in, at the beginning of the month. Kind of a waste to go in again right, in less than a month? Isn't it terribly bourgeois to be cutting your hair all the time?
For the past 20 years of my life, I cared about my appearance, almost a bit too self-absorbedly. Trying to change that. So I'm going to wait it out, just because I don't want to waste money. One more month, then I'll get it cut short. I don't give a shit how I look, I don't feel like I need to work that hard to impress anyone, right? I mean........shouldn't people be attracted to other areas of me as a person, regardless of the length of my hair?
Ok, ok, ok, ok........enough. Moving on.
I apologize for the absolutely awful photos I put up. Maybe if I had a better cellphone......?
Anyways, my buddy Rocky took these photos from our dinner. Take that LCBO Vintages catalogue!! Makes this Jacquart look at least 3 times as expensive as it is.
Check out Rocky's photos here: http://flickr.com/photos/84715457@N00/
Turns out they aren't much. Aren't much to worry about, anyway. What upset me was the wait. There were three people booked for 4:30. How does that work? I'll tell you how that works. It's called over-booking, and milking the OHIP system for as much as you can.
It's just absolutely ridiculous. I waited 70 minutes, for an appointment I made a month in advance. Why bother with making appointments, if you're going to overbook? Might as well get everyone to rip tickets, like how they do at the driver's exam place and do it on a first-come-first-serve basis. Idiots.
It's a pretty well-padded system. Pack as many patients in a day as possible, collect a shitload of money from OHIP. That's why a socialist healthcare system is so flawed. You have to make people assume a portion of the healthcare burden beyond taxes, or else you have retirees going in to see GP's on a regular basis, for no apparent reason. Yes, there clearly was absolutely nothing wrong with the geezer sitting beside me. The secretary said that the doctor "started late today". What a load of shit. You're making me wait already - don't insult my intelligence.
Anyways, on a good note, I won't need surgery or anything, unless something obvious happens.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Cold tonight, I don't think dinner will be anything special. But maybe some port after?
I've always loved Marynissen, for the intensity of the wine, and its age-worthiness. They make lovely, perfumed Bordeaux-style blends, with great restraint. It's not a hard wine to judge - the price alone elevates this wine to what I believe are the best cabernets in the country. Marynissen holds the standard for what other cabernet makers should aspire to. It's a shame you have a few big-name brands making so called "Meritage" blend wines - poor, thin, underripe, pathetic excuses for cabernet.
This is 50% cabernet sauvignon, 50% cabernet franc. Unusual, in that you don't see this type of blend in Bordeaux, where there's more merlot than cabernet franc. Marynissen makes an excellent cabernet/merlot blend as well - this is the first time I've tried the cabernet.
There's a deep saturation in the wine, still lustrous red - dark, but not inky. The aromas leap out of the glass - blackberries and dark cherries, heady aromatic fruit. Vegetal characters, from the cabernet franc. Great complexity - earth and bramble and fresh cut grass. On the palate, there's great depth and density in the wine, a testament to the nurturing hand of the Marynissen's. These people really know how to ripen cabernet. There's not much extract in this wine, but this is still a well-structure wine. Great restraint. Lacks the elegance of a Bordeaux, but the tannins are well-integrated and the transition silky. Finish of fresh red fruits, very long. Absolutely delicious.
This has the sharp, acidic nose indicative of Niagara cabernet. But it's not at all underripe or otherwise lacking in strength. I believe in the ageability of these wines, I should have bought much more of this wine. Fantastic!
Started off with NV Champagne Jacquart, Brut Mosaique. Fine mousse, great minerality on the nose, high acidity on the palate, bitter lemon zest finish. Wonderful, simple Champagne, maybe not with the depth to go well with heavier foods, but perfect with a light first course. What can be more sensual than drinking Champagne? Pop, fizz, drink, all to excess.
Just hopped into bed, full of great food, and surprisingly good bottles of wine. An exceptional bottle of Niagara cabernet...did not see myself ever feeling that way about Ontario cabernet wines.
Thanks to the friends that made the effort worthwhile. Hope I fed you so well you won't have to eat until Monday.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
A rice wine from the town of Shaoxing, without a doubt my favourite Chinese spirit. Decant it, warm it in a simmering pot of water, and serve piping hot. I guess proper serving dictates that you drink it warm, not hot.....but I love it when it steams a little. This bottle was my last - a very fine example of how exquisite the flavours in this wine can be.
Dark bronze, rich and lustrous in texture. Such a mouth-filling, silky transition into a lovely sweet finish. The face flushes, the heart pumps a bit harder, and your insides thank you for the warmth.
Went out to pick up those kids my mother babysits. The usually 20 minute trip took 75 minutes. We were heading up the ramp on 401 East when disaster struck - none of the cars were moving. Just sitting there on the on-ramp, no way to get out either because cars were building up behind me. Finally, we got out, sort of coordinated for everyone to back out off the ramp, onto the road again. Problem was that the snow was falling so heavily and sticking so much on the windows that no amount of wiping would work. I was backing out blind, with only a slit to give me an indication as to how far away the car was behind me. Scary.
This was a bad storm. But why are we surprised - this is Canada. Walked out today, and it was beautiful outside.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Volunteered at the CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish today. Helped fill out orders for gifts to children. It's great, helping out. Hope the kids enjoy it because everyone deserves to be happy during the holidays.
I'm heading to bed now - just too tired and this headache is making me feel nauseous. Snow's melted a lot hasn't it? Looks like we'll be pounded every other day until Christmas. At least we'll have a white one!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I love Bandol. I wish I could buy more of it, I wish I could drink more of it. But alas, the LCBO is dictated by what sells, and what sells is dictated by the American wine press, who have all but forgotten about these magnificent wines. These rustic, seductive, absolutely honest terroir wines that grips you and carresses you and leave an unforgettable stain in your heart.
Both 1997 Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut, but the difference is the site from where they came from - both from Grand Cru villages, with both being the corresponding grape. Top is from Chouilly - chardonnay grapes. Bottom from Ambonnay - pinot noir. Actually, I'm ashamed to say I don't know the exact blend, or even if this is a blend. I do believe, 98% sure, that the Chouilly is a Blanc de Blancs, and the Ambonnay is a Blanc de Noirs.
Loading some new things into my iPod, so I have a moment. New wine videos and some Rihanna. How amazing has her career gone? As long as you've got the right people around you...........
Back and forth from Bayview Village LCBO again. WTF, I feel like it's a mandatory pit stop from the office to home now. Ridiculous. At least I picked up some of my wines today. Finally - those idiots still havn't got the right paperwork ready, but at least they pulled some strings, and my wine came home with me.
Getting cold today, guess there's going to be some big storm tomorrow. Doesn't worry me - it's not like we've never seen some snow before. After driving back and forth from Waterloo last winter, with the pounding we got, 5-10 won't be anything.
Another great dinner coming up this Saturday. Seeing some friends I havn't seen in ages. Tomorrow, going to the CP24/CHUM headquarters to volunteer at their warehouse. Packing children's gifts I guess.
This is most troubling. Looked into my wine drawer today...I have no more wine! All the things I've been buying are to be put away - nothing's ready to drink!! What do I do....................
Monday, December 15, 2008
They finally found WMDs in Iraq!
"This is a farewell kiss, you dog" - Muntadar al-Zaidi, who went on to almost pwn Bush in the face with not one, but both his shoes. I can't believe he had time to bend down to take both shoes off and toss them. You think he loosened his shoes during the press conference and slowly took them off beforehand in preparation? If only he yelled after he threw it. Yelling first kind of ruined the element of surprise, but he sure got his message, and the message of millions of Arabs across.
What a fitting end to the most moronic, anti-intellectual, anti-democratic President and Adminstration in the history of America. How typical was it of Bush, who never lets reasoning and cultural sensitivity get in the way of bullish cowboy bravado, to simply brush it off as bizarre, and joke that it was a size 10 shoe?
I'm so disappointed that this hero missed his target. Yes, Muntadar al-Zaidi is a hero. Forget trying to reason with Bush - the man has proven without a doubt that his thickheadedness prevails over any sense of moral duty or rational thought. You think any American will care to report that this reporter was beaten senseless and dragged out of the room in a bloody heap? Or that if left to the puppet government currently in place, he'll be given a fair trial?? Open your eyes! What Saddam Hussein did in the open, the Bush administration does in the dark, away from what little free press remains inAmerica.
Just wondering - al-Zaidi has a great throwing arm. Too bad Bush is quite quick. Deceptively quick, I might add. Got to give him credit there. How I wish the damn right shoe landed! Even clipping him on the scalp would have been so satisfying. You think al-Zaidi practiced? Setting up a lectern in his basement with a picture of Bush on the wall, and practice throwing a shoe at it? I mean, it's quite difficult, aiming a shoe like that. You know, getting the trajectory right and everything.........
This is Bush's legacy, people. A small, smug little man, with no policy, only fake tough-guy instincts. Too bad the only person hurt was White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who got a black eye from getting pwned in the face with a microphone. She's so pretty...........
The paperwork wasn't there, and same for Karen. Apparently they like to keep their customers hanging. The wine was there, no doubt - I had my hands on both orders. But they don't leave the store without the paperwork. So now, I have to go in when Karen is working again, because from my point of view, Karen f*cked up.
Down with monopolies!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This one has a much tighter, restrained nose than the 1980. Same colour - a beautiful, lustrous amber. Caramel and wafer characters on the nose, but clearly not as relaxed. Tense. On the palate, the acidity balances the sweetness wonderfully. Sweet and pleasing, but not cloying. Becomes more simple - you definitely taste the brandy more. Harsher towards the finish.
I suspect this wine just needs some time. I love this lighter style of port. Perfect end to a lovely meal.
JC knew about this wine - he mentioned he has a few bottles of the 2000 millesime. Again, a deep, dark colour. This one has a hotter nose. Lots of dark berries, meaty aromas, and a minerally graphite character. Instantly recognizable claret. Leaner on the palate, but with good acidity and more integrated tannins. Lovely - not damaged in any way, and just drinking beautifully.
I enjoyed this wine immensely. Not just because of how delicious the wine was, but because this was one of the first Bordeaux wines I bought, when I first started being serious about my hobby. It's only fitting that I drink it with JC and my other guests.
This was the star of our meal. 2000 Chateau Franc-Maillet, AC Pomerol. I had high expectations, because I didn't want to look like an ass in front of my guests and this was one of the more expensive wines I've had this year.
Deep purple, saturated to the rim. The nose was gorgeous - dark fruits, smoky earth, bramble, herbs.....so complex. It's an intense wine on the palate - not rich by any means but very focussed. Packs a punch as well. Fantastic transition to a long, berry-tinged finish. Absolutely delicious. Would benefit from more aging, this wine is not ready to drink yet.
I decanted everything, so that helped. JC loved it. This isn't a fruit-forward Pomerol many of us expected. It's a complex, intense, classic claret that continued to evolve and whisper throughout the meal.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
We drank some amazing things tonight. Of course, more importantly, it was all held up against excellent cuisine. Four hours. That's how long we ate.
I didn't take any images of our dinner. Too vulgar, to pull out my cell phone as soon as I set the plate down.
It's wonderful to enjoy dinner with our dear friends again. Friends are important. What good does it do if you have a lot of great wine and no one to share it with? Our home is small, but it's full of life, and I'm grateful that we were able to share that with cherished friends.
The food was fantastic tonight. Everything went as planned, flavours were extraordinary. The wines were absolutely fantastic. Both Bordeaux were perfect, great relieft that nothing was corked or otherwise flawed. Excellent!
Table's all set, wine glasses are polished. A lot of work, but worth to have sparkly wine glasses. We'll be drinking Bordeaux tonight, mature Right and Left Bank wines.
Looking forward to dinner. Will write later tonight, when I'm all good and buzzed from great food, fine wine, and lively conversation.
Cork looked great, as you can see. Clean, no seepage. Wine is starting to brown a bit, but keeping its saturation. Nose was powerful, but overoaked - a flaw no doubt exacerbated by time. Nice ripe berries, but so much vanilla and creaminess from the barriques that it loses so much of its regional qualities. This is a lean wine, and the acidity throws the balance off.
I'm disappointed. If I wanted to taste an overoaked cabernet, I would have gone for American. If you like wood, become a carpenter. Keep that nonsense out of wine.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Because of an upcoming dinner, I've been thinking about wine etiquette, pertaining to receiving wine as a dinner gift. My dear friend is very generous, and the greatest wines I've tasted have all been from his cellar. So for dinner this Saturday, if he brings over a great bottle, I should open it right? I mean, wouldn't it be rude to put it away, and open something else, something invariably inferior?
I love giving wine as a gift, especially if I know the recipient appreciates wine as much as I do. I'll always pick out something special, something I'd like to drink myself. Under that mentality, always open wine that a guest has brought for you, especially if the guest is a Wine Drinker. If they aren't Wine Drinkers, the wine will probably be decidedly mediocre at best, and deserves to be banished into the cupboard.
There. Problem solved. Whatever wine my guest brings over on Saturday, I will readily decant because I know it will be a special wine, and if I know my friends at all, I know that both of them will want a taste as well.
Some Niagara properties have begun their icewine harvest. December 7, to be exact. When I go up, that's something I want to ask them about. Let's be honest, this is not ideal weather to be picking icewine grapes. Not while the temp goes up and down like an elevator.
The Bordelais might not offer a 2008 En Primeur campaign. Which is a shame, especially if the quality is better than what's been written - most of which is negative. If only the French would pull their heads out of their asses and really take a look around.....keep this kind of pricing going and in 3 years, we'll all be drinking f*cking Chilean cabernet and New Zealand pinot noir. I just shuddered at the thought.
On a brighter note - getting ready for a great dinner we're cooking this weekend for a few fellow wine drinking friends. Wine drinking, in the most tasteful and knowledgable sense. No f*cking Australian shit drinkers here. I've prepared a few bottles of claret, as well as a lovely port we'll enjoy after dinner. On the menu, traditional Southern Chinese cuisine, all with a Shanghai influence.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
LCBO Vintages sales centre opens at 9am. Phones were absolutely jammed the whole morning. There wasn't even a hold - it was just a busy tone. Finally, towards noon, I got through.
I wanted to order 1999 Chateau Haut Bergey, and 1997 Champagne J. Lassalle Brut. Both sold out. Shit!
What is this nonsense? All gone on the first day? LCBO can go to hell with all this phone nonsense. Dammit, I'm still pissed!
On another note...today was the release day for VintagesOnline. Wanted one of their Bandol wines listed, but..............using all my willpower, did not place it into my shopping cart. Because I have strong discipline. Even though I still have yet to receive about 12 other bottles of various wines I've bought in the last 2 months.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
By chance, I found a few bottles of 2004 Chateau D'Aiguilhe. Having bought the 2005, it'd be interesting to drink it alongside the 2004, one of my favourite young Bordeaux vintages. Just hope it's not corked/oxidized/heat-damaged.........
Ahh, at last! 2005 Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet, second wine of Chateau Pontet-Canet of Pauilliac. Went through a lot of trouble to get this wine.
The people at Fairview must think I'm crazy and should be pretty sick of me. I've been going in for 4 weeks straight, asking about various wines and generally making them run all over the place. The hicks that live around there don't drink much else besides beer and hard liquor, so I understand if their Vintages section is neglected.
They stock a lot of wines much earlier than Bayview, which is why I even bother going. For example - they had this wine in inventory a full day before BV. The woman with the mole, tight pony-tail and round shrew-like face must recognize me by now. First, the whole deal with the Chateau Suau, now this. They had to go back to get a few bottles for me because they weren't on shelves yet. Hey - if you're going to call yourself a Vintages product consultant - then this is part of the job.
You know what's funny? And quite alarming, when you reflect on it. When she scanned for this wine, the price showed up as $69 under Retail. But - it also said $59 under the label Basic. So that means that the LCBO buys from negociant for $59, puts in a 17% markup, then sells it to me at $69? Let's be honest - this markup is explained as liquor taxes, but is clearly a cash grab. That's why monopolies are fascist.
Such a light colour, the lightest of any Niagara pinot noir I've ever drank, and possibly one of the lightest red wines I've ever come across. No sign of browning at all, a deep saturation to the rim - completely the opposite of the fading Flat Rock from last week. Beautiful. I'm so, so tired of overdone wines - it's like being in a room full of plastic surgury blondes. The natural-looking brunette will always stand out as being the most beautiful.
What a gorgeous nose. That characteristic Niagara warmth and clay earthiness, those strawberries, that wild brush. On the palate, more complexity, and this is such a tight, tannic wine. No perceptible softening from the last time I drank this wine, July of 2007. Austere and complex, such vigour and character. A seamless transition to an almost rustic finish. Silky elegance draped over a steely structure.
This is the greatest Niagara pinot noir I've ever drank. Geographic companions pale to Lailey's elegance, complexity, and sturdy character. Showcasing Niagara terroir, Lailey demonstrates its unique style, and its flair.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Packed up some more wines. This is pissing me off, that I don't even have the space at home to put a few bottles away. It's not fair to our friend, that I have to keep bothering them, moving boxes of wine in every few months. Soon......working on it, sooner or later I'm going to have a permanent cellar.
Big dinner coming up next weekend. We're hosting our dear friends over, the first time we've had them over in almost 2 years. Lots of great Right-Bank claret will be drunk, as well as a well-aged 1981 Colheita Port.
It's December already, and almost that time of year. Christmas is always one of my favourite times of the year. It's just that feeling - of celebration, of togetherness, and just a wonderful close to the year.
This year....just not feeling it. Not feeling it. Maybe it's the year we've been having, maybe it's because I havn't seen my friends in a while. But at least lately, I've been buying many fantastic wines.
Lots of great wines lined up. Lots of great dinners to look forward to as well. I don't understand people who don't like to entertain. Cooking and hosting dinners for friends is one of life's great pleasures, especially friends who appreciate good food and fine wine. There's nothing that makes me happier than sharing great wines with friends, letting loose and being merry. Maybe that'll get me that Christmas feeling back.
Well.....I couldn't believe anyone could be so damn stupid. But then...it seems the LCBO attracts the dim-witted and illiterate.
I was at LCBO, hoping to get some news about the Le Clos Jordanne release. This twinky (yellow outside, white inside) was at the info desk, with a case of 1996 Ch. La Gorce. I bought a few bottles of this wine from the last release. Anyways, he was trying to return the entire case. Apparently, he was claiming that they were all corked. The lady there basically told him to go f*ck himself. I clearly heard her say, "This wine is for British palates". To translate, that means that you have no taste, and don't have a f*cking clue about what you're talking about, so stop talking about wine.
The worst thing? He was trying to return an empty bottle, and another one that was half full. Ridiculous. If you thought it was a bad wine, why'd you finish it? You clearly don't have the ability to tell a corked wine from a good wine. And you drank the whole damn thing too...you greedy bastard. You always sniff the wine before you pour a full glass. No need to drink to detect any flaws. The palate only confirms what the nose detects.
This idiot. An absolute embarrassment to Asians. The complete douche, the Wine Spectator wine drinker. Drinking from what the critics write, without having a damn clue. And trying to pass that off as connoisseurship. To the left-handed d-bag, with the bad haircut and even more horrific taste: leave wine alone. It's clearly not your thing. You're not fooling anyone.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Haircut tomorrow. Finally. It's been a bit more than two months. Dinner in Mississauga. And for sure, I'm finishing that damn bottle of Lailey tonight. I don't give a shit, it's MY f*cking wine!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
My other wines I picked up that night. Top: 2007 Hunter's Pinot Noir, Marlborough South Island. One of my favourite New Zealand wines. Jane Hunter makes a fabulous wine, perfect weight and balance, racy acidity, and just delicious.
The Schloss Schonborn. I have a few vintages of this wine already - now let's add in a 2001.
2007 Balthasar Ress Riesling Kabinett, QmP Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus. I though it'd be interesting to taste such a young wine from a great vintage with the much older Balthasar Ress rieslings from the 1980's I have. This coming summer, this vertical will happen, and it will be epic!