Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Wines of Burgundy tasting was a wonderful event. Venue was great - who knew hosting a wine event at the Art Gallery of Ontario would turn out even better than at the Four Seasons?
Saturday, March 26, 2011
2009 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes: slightly candied, soft palate, the winemaker apparently drinks wine out of a straw; I wrote ughhh in my notes
2008 Beaune Blanc Clos des Mouches: spicy rose petals, sour red fruit, linear and very finely structured
2008 Puligny-Montrachet: some oak, lemon on the nose, very fresh; oaky on the palate, linear acidity
2008 Vosne-Romanée: spicy lean fruit, linear; palate quite coarse
2007 Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru: fresh ripe fruit, tropical notes, high acid; oaky palate
1999 Pommard Bertins 1er Cru: green nose, herbal; silky on the palate, lots of brett too; possibly the most disappointing wine of the tasting, very little breed or character to show for its 12 years
2008 Savigny-lès-Beaune La Dominode 1er Cru: slightly candied, macerated nose, hard structure
2009 Autour de Fuissé: oaky nose, citrus, simple
2008 Pouilly Fuissé Hors Classe Les Ménétrières: oaky buttery on the nose, more the same on the palate
2007 Pouilly Fuissé Hors Classe Tournant de Pouilly: fresher, but oak lingers; spicy, cream and wood on the palate
2008 Chassagne-Montrachet Cailleret 1er Cru: slightly oaky, citrus fruit, very oaky palate
2008 Meursault Château de Blagny 1er Cru: fresh lemon fruit on the nose, energetic, some oak on the palate, viscous finish
2008 Puligny-Montrachet La Garenne 1er Cru: lemon and oak bouquet, slightly muted palate, fruit but oaky finish
2008 Côte de Nuits-Villages: candied fruit, unremarkable; a lot of wines showing over-enthusiastic, macerated character
2008 Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux-Monts 1er Cru: spicy, earthy nose, fresh rose petals, elegant spicy finish, tightly structures; this is going to be a good one with bottle age
2008 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Grandes Vignes: deep earthiness, density and concentration; just beautiful juicy fruit on the palate, refined tannins; shows rusticity of Nuits-St-Georges, needs a good 10 years
2008 Mercurey Clos L'Évêque 1er Cru: a bit macerated on the nose, which follows on the palate
2008 Mercurey En Sazenay 1er Cru: candied, airy wine, without distinction
2008 Mercurey: ripe, upfront fruit, ripe palate, a good simple village wine
2008 Petite Chapelle Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru: slightly candied, simple; these one-dimensional wines have no business charging such steep prices
2009 Saint-Romain Blanc: lean, green citrus, unremarkable palate, thin and slightly weedy
2009 Pommard Les Boucherottes: spicy nose, ripe, almost jammy; follows on palate, coarsely structured
2009 Pommard Les Vignots: ripe, slightly jammy, tightly wound up, very primary at this stage
2007 Meursault Clos de Mazeray: oaky, buttery cream, very sweet on the palate, crispy finish; desperately needs time for the wood to integrate
2007 Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru: sweet oak, oily and viscous texture; has this potential to be a monster in 10-15 years?
2007 Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru: coffee-like oak, spicy, deep fruit, again showing a slightly candied character on the palate
2007 Chablis Les Blanchots Grand Cru: minerally and lean fruit, high acid, creamy oak; needs time, but this will be a good one
2009 Chablis Saint-Martin: oaky nose, fresh floral fruit, fresh palate, very lean
2007 Chablis Vaillons Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru: oaky citrus nose, tense palate, clean but austere
2008 Pommard Les Chaponnières 1er Cru: spicy rose petals, lean red fruit, fine palate, rich and very, very good
2008 Beaune Les Epenottes 1er Cru: spicy earthy nose, pure pinot noir character, rose petals singing; structured on the palate, but very silky, would like to put this in my cellar
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Wines of Burgundy tasting in Toronto this past Tuesday was, as written earlier, a fantastic look at a wide range of producers. What I found a bit confusing was the emphasis on producer - tables were separated by each Domaine showing a range of their wines. As I always attempt to navigate these tastings on an appellation basis, I was a bit thrown off by this arrangement. Therefore, I began by hopping tables and tasting Chablis first - the tasting was so crowded that selective tasting was almost impossible, and I was forced to go table to table. Wines were tasted according to producer, important to keep in mind as you go through my notes. To keep things easier for myself, I'm going to compile my notes the same way - by producer. Allons-y
2008 Monthélie: earth and spicy fruit, smoky red fruit; lean and slightly coarse in texture, structured
2009 Chablis: ripe and floral fruit, almost tropical with creamy oak; ripe palate, crunchy texture, great acid; drinking great now, exuberant
2008 Chablis Les Lys 1er Cru: greenish nose, minerals, lean fruit; high acid, slightly creamy oak on the palate
2009 Pas Si Petit Petit Chablis: ripe, oaky, forward nose; structured palate, alcohol showing on finish
Vieilles Vignes Chablis Les Vénérables: floral, woodsy oak, clean fruit
2008 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chenevottes 1er Cru: slight oak on the nose, clean fruit, but palate is showing lots of primary oak; needs lots of time
2007 Beaune Clos des Fèves Monopole 1er Cru: very ripe fruit, slightly jammy; palate is a bit macerated, lean structure
2007 Pernand-Vergelesses Les Vergelesses 1er Cru: oaky, creamy, lean palate; less than exciting
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Wines of Burgundy tasting in Toronto this past Tuesday, hosted at the Art Gallery of Ontario, was fantastic. What was more fantastic than the actual tasting, however, was the epicness that ensued afterwards. Ah yes, the string of events over the three and a half hours or so it took us to take the subway back up north from downtown will forever be seared into my memory of the evening. Who knew a night of tasting fine Burgundy with the boys would turn out so?
Out of respect for the parties involved, I won't divulge specifics. Yet.
I'm working on consolidating my full tasting notes, and they should be up by the end of this week. Please stay tuned - this was a great tasting. Highlights included the Bouchard Père et Fils and William Fèvre tables. In the meantime, I wanted to address something that's been bugging me, something that became even more obvious during this event. I'm referring to the power of suggestion.
That is to say, when you taste wine, opinions of the people around you have a tangible influence on what you actually taste. Yesterday's tasting was fairly crowded, and I couldn't help but overhear some of the other attendees talking, not to mention the Domaine representatives present who try to give you a tasting note before they even finish pouring. An errant comment about fruit, oak, whatever, and suddenly my tasting notes are altered. I should know better. But how come I'm still susceptible, if even for the slightest instant, to tasting remarks from people who should have no place in informing my palate? Maybe I need to start wearing ear plugs to these things.
In the end, I completely drowned out all ambient noise. I even started ignoring what my friends were saying to me. And the result is that I'm more confident about these tasting notes than ones from any other tasting I've attended. Now, if only the rest of our night had gone as well . . .
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Château du Grand Mouëys, AC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
2009 Concha Y Toro Maycas de Limarí Reserva Syrah, Limarí Valley
This is an unbelievable story: Fake wine discovered at LCBO prompts police probe
But so many unanswered (or rather, unreported) details. Who were the people trying to return the wines? Who supplied the labels and certificate numbers? And what kind of moron makes counterfeit Amarone selling for an amateurish $34.95 a bottle?
A round of applause to the sharp eyed LCBO staff who identified the funny bottles.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
2008 Marziano Abbona Papà Celso, DOCG Dogliani
Simplicity and authenticity. So difficult to put into words what exactly they mean in wine, so difficult to qualify when you taste. Yet we search for it, obsessively even. And when we (winos) find it, we want to shout as loud as we can about these gems. True wine transcends all nationalities, ethnicities, or chauvinistic tendencies.
This is my first bottle of dolcetto. I still think the French make better farmer's wines, but this wine proves how brilliant this estate is. Patience, the highest of virtues, required. Still very young, and when you taste, you understand that this wine is structured for bottle age. Not typical of most dolcettos, but Abbona is not most producers. Dark purple with a red core, lots of forward and lean fruit. Aggressive even, something I love about Italian wines. After 2 hours of air, a roasted, savoury aroma wafts out, with minerals on the palate. Spicy finish. And then the tannins show why drinking this wine now is tantamount to infanticide. A few more hours in and the wine completely shuts down in bouquet and palate. Patience, right?
So, simplicity and authenticity. Yes, on both counts. This is a farmer's wine, no doubt. Unpretentious, pure, and absolutely demands to be served with food. A good, proper Italian wine, aggressive at first, becoming very warm with time. Something we all need to be drinking more of.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
This is a friend's daughter. Still too young to understand that she only has a short window of life without responsibilities left. Who was it that said youth was wasted on the young?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I occasionally have crippling episodes of insecurity/depression. Not often, but when it happens, it's severe enough to knock me out for a few days. I have this vision of myself bobbing around with no direction. So many of my peers apparently have it all figured out, this 40 year life plan that'll allow for early retirement, sports car and cottage. How are you so certain what you want to do with your life? So you're set as an accountant/architect/computer engineer? As if things just settle nicely into the lap.
Monday, March 14, 2011
2006 Alvento Aria, VQA Niagara Peninsula
It's been a while, this piece has been sitting as a draft for a few days. I'm becoming increasingly worried about the situation in Japan, and while my aunt assures us that they are ok, Naoto Kan's government is hardly inspiring confidence. Absolute incompetence, just a roomful of inept bureaucrats.
I picked this wine out of the sale bin. Vintages locations occasionally mark down a few bottles they desperately need to get rid of . . . usually not by much. Sales from the LCBO are hard to come by, like squeezing water out of a rock. But a very interesting proposition. A 100% nebbiolo wine from Niagara, and very courageous of Alvento to work on a grape that is virtually unheard of outside Italy. But do they succeed? Depends on your definition of success, as always. Is it just to make a good tasting wine, or is it to make an authentic, Niagara wine?
An interesting wine in any case. Very pale red in colour, almost turning slightly tawny on the rim. What I don't understand is the synthetic corks the producer chooses to close their bottles with. Somewhat counterintuitive to their ethos that they don't bottle wines if the quality isn't there. Bouquet is textbook nebbiolo, rose petals, fungal earth aromas, and sour red berries - quite delicate, flitting even. Palate is very lean, and does lack concentration. And therein lies the great debate about wines coming out of Niagara.
The climate is unequivocally cool climate. The question is whether wines made out of cool-climate vineyards express the authentic character of that varietal more than warmer climates. In many Niagara wines, this nebbiolo being the latest example, I find this to be true. It has all the aromatic components that are instantly recognizable - what it lacks is the intensity of true Barolo. But should this stop producers from attempting to make these wines? They will always be compared to the original, and they will always pale in comparison.
Can Niagara's cool climate ever produce wines of great distinction, not just cheap imitations? And what exactly defines a wine's authenticity?
Oh, and if you're interested in what we ate this with . . . it was beautiful with hotpot. High acid and lean body helps.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
A friend gave me a bottle of pesto for Christmas. It's been sitting in my fridge since, because I don't know what to do with it. Looks green and expensive. She bought it at Holt Renfrew - apparently they sell food there too. Finally, I grabbed a spoon last weekend and scooped some out to spread on some bread, fresh from the bakery.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
2002 Bodegas Olarra Cerro Añon Gran Reserva, DOCa Rioja
I don't follow my own advice. All this talk about global drinking is useless because I always end up going back to true wines, not good tasting wines. I could devote pages and pages to what I feel is true wine, but simply put, they're wines that are authentic to place and time of origin, history and tradition. And you just cannot find these wines in the New World. Not yet at least.
2002 was an odd vintage in Rioja. Difficult weather, uneven ripening particularly for tempranillo - to make a gran reserva in 2002 was a confident move. This wine proved my skepticism wrong. Dark in colour, elegant, with minerals and floral notes. Has those soft, very textural tannins, finishing long. Excellent integration, and drinking very well.
What was I saying about global drinking? Right. Until New World vineyards have 50 or so vintages on the shelf, nothing comes close to the personality European wines have. As a partisan of Niagara wines, I hope, in my old age, to see their character blossom. Until then . . .
Few weeks ago, Toronto had another one of those close but not quite snowstorms. And in typical Greater Toronto Area fashion, everyone panicked.
I was at a bar watching the NBA All-Star Game with a friend. I had a few beers, and with the wine I drank for dinner, came home a bit wobbly. It was beautiful outside, peaceful at 1am when the snow was still gently falling, no wind, red sky. So I started shovelling the driveway. I was so drunk that I had to lay down on my stomach to get this shot.
And in the morning, the cleared driveway was covered again. Like last night never happened.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
The decanter, and my heart, in pieces. Oh, and the bright red bow on top? The week started off with a horrific day of trading, which saw my RIM stock plummet $1.52 a share (-2.36%), plunging my portfolio down 2.21%.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
2005 Delaforce Late Bottled Vintage Port
So this is what it's come to. DF, depressed and down, resorting to cheap scotch. Five to seven shots in, I don't know, still not feeling better. The fumes off the candles seem to be helping though. The Erlkönig can come take me.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
2009 Domaine de Peyanne, AC Saumur
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The last of the dried flowers we found on our last visit to 周庄, a little village about 120 km or so southeast of Shanghai. What a beautiful place. The village's defining feature are the canals that the houses are built on. Shades of Venice, but much more beautiful. For poets and dreamers.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
2007 Domaine Belle Les Pierrelles, AC Crozes-Hermitage
You see, this is a perfect example of how your perception of a wine can be wildly divergent from wine professionals. With all due respect, because I actually do agree with his tastes more often than not, John Szabo MS was way off on this Crozes-Hermitage. Way off. John wrote in his January 28th WineAlign newsletter:
There was more than a subtle murmur of excitement in the LCBO tasting lab as the writers came upon the Crozes-Hermitage, made from pure syrah. The appellation is not as highly regarded as the neighboring hill of Hermitage to the south, nor Côte-Rôtie across on the west banks of the Rhône River and further up-stream, nor even Cornas opposite. It’s more variable in style and quality, with some Crozes made using the technique of carbonic maceration to yield soft, simple, fruity reds for early enjoyment, while others are just simply lighter and less complex versions of more ‘serious’ northern Rhône syrahs. Yet there are a few producers with privileged sites whose exceptions prove the rules. Alain Graillot comes to mind, as does Jaboulet’s Domaine du Thalabert. Domaine Belle, on the other hand, is a new discovery for me, and it seems, is under the radar for many.
Pretty words, but in my opinion, the wine was anything but authentic, regional, or worth drinking. Bottle variation, tasting conditions aside, the wine tasted nothing like the above description. Nothing alike. It was overly macerated, confected, with a limp, flabby body. Cheap. Difficult to find any redeeming values - perhaps if it was $12.95, it wouldn't sting as much, but for $23, this is an incredibly limp-dicked wine.
I like syrah, especially from the northern Rhône. This should have been a quality wine, implied by both price and the labelling of a lieu-dit. So what's going on? Was this a bad bottle? Is my tasting ability suspect? Or is it the simple fact that everyone has different tastes and as much as you would like to, you can't always trust what a wine writer lays down in print.
Just don't tell me this is what a good syrah tastes like. It's not.