Archive for the Alan Kerr Category
Yet another high end release is on the books for this Saturday’s Vintages “Uncork The Finest”. This coupled with the amount of snow in the area means it must be Christmas after all. Several good to very good wines, but the board was in a bit of Scrooge mood as they were not as generous with the amount of wines sent for tasting as they were for the last release.
315200 HENRY OF PELHAM CUVÉE CATHARINE CARTE BLANCHE ESTATE BLANC DE BLANC 2009 Traditional Method, Short Hills Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $44.95
Not presented at the tasting, but having the good fortune to taste this on a recent visit to the winery I can say to anyone wanting to pop a bottle of domestic bubby for the New Year, this will not disappoint. It has all the yeasty, straw and toasty aromas of a fine quality Champagne. The palate is dry, has superb acidity, with plenty of pear, mineral and bready flavours. Find this wine
361758 UNION FORTÉ 2007 Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 500 mL $16.95
One of a couple of Port style wines up for grabs and this is really quite tasty. It oozes aromas of sweet plum, black toffee, sweet cherry and apple skin. It is a Tawny style wine made from a blend of Cabernet and Merlot from the region’s excellent vintage of 2007. It’s chewy on a palate and benefits from the explosion of blueberry fruit, and creamy dark toffee texture. Find this wine
548677 MASI CAMPOLONGO DI TORBE AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2007 Veneto, $101.95
Quite lovely, enticing aromas of marzipan, chocolate egg, cardamom, root beer, mocha and cappuccino abound. Quite dense on the palate, great fruit flavours, slightly sweeter than its cousin below, with damson, blackberry and plum, somewhat spicy, finishing with dried blueberry and dusty tannins. Find this wine
Tis the season to be jolly and Vintages is releasing some of their finest in the annual “Uncork the Season” release. As always there are good wines and not so good wines. Hopefully I can take the guess work out of some of them for you.
A selection of my opinions from the “Uncork” release.
266551 ANTICA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Atlas Peak District, Napa Valley $53.95
Brimming with bursts of red jelly candy, cocoa, dried blackcurrant, licorice, tree bark, clove, anise and tar with luscious chewy fruit, featuring blueberry, plum and a touch of chocolate, well balanced, but firm tannins suggest time. Find this wine
652883 BELLE GLOS CLARK & TELEPHONE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County $44.95
Aromas of ripe red fruit, damson, black raspberry, rose petal, creamy cappuccino, Fry’s cholate cream and cheap dollar store style sweet licorice. The palate is forceful, punching out blackberry and Asian spice flavours to no end. Great wine, but, fans of silky fined tuned Pinot beware, this is the anti-Christ of Pinots. Find this wine
246629 MOLLYDOOKER THE MAITRE D’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 McLaren Vale, South Australia $29.95 $29.95
I must confess to not enjoying Australian wines as much as I used to, but if they were all made like this, I would be a born again Ozzie- ite. This is a monster, but a gentle giant that oozes with aromas of iron, currant, mineral, dusty pine and eucalyptus. Its palate is powerful, but impeccably balanced, boasting flavours of currant, blackberry, Moroccan spice and Mocha. Think this is good; wait until the next release for my notes on its way bigger and brawny brother. Find this wine
104299 THE PRISONER 2012 Napa Valley $49.95
Murky, showing notes of dried leaves, hazelnut, sweet oak and dark red fruit, this vintage is toned down from last year’s rendition, but the sweetness and the 15 plus level of alcohol both make their way to the surface . The blend of 46% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petite Sirah, 12% Syrah, and a small amount of Charbono could be a fun wine to drink, but sadly the palate is globby and chewy with a finish of candy syrup and heat. Find this wine
Tuscan wines are the feature this release and I can state there are good quality wines to be found at both ends of the pricing structure. Not too many other wines to report on as little else was sent to sample. There is a Chilean sub release, but my palate was done after tasting these big Tuscan beauts.
378257 BANFI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 $59.95
An enticing nose built of black raspberry, berry, dark caramel, espresso, polished wood and treacle. The palate has other ideas about drinkability though, it is tight, showing a little red fruit, bay leaf, sweet spice and plenty of gripping tannin on the finish. Find this wine
315150 CASTELLO D’ALBOLA RISERVA CHIANTI CLASSICO 2008 $22.95
Some pretty aromas of perfumed black fruit, thyme, cherry, tree bark and cigar leaf; sadly a little lean on the palate, tannins are dusty, but non aggressive. Find this wine
164707 LEONARDO CHIANTI RISERVA 2010 $19.95
Quite intense and stimulating, with a smoky/bacon note backed up with clove, plum, dried fruit and cave air. Fruit on the palate is quite dense showing off dark cherry and plummy flavours that render a decent wine for the price. Find this wine
222810 ROCCA DI CASTAGNOLI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011 $17.00
A nice perfumed nose with heaps of plum, blackberry, fresh flowers and sweet spice leading to a slightly sweetish palate, but nonetheless, it has good solid dark fruit, gentle tannin and a soft texture. It is a tasty and nicely balanced wine. Find this wine
943670 AVIGNONESI VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2011 $35.95
Laden with sweet fruit aromas, black cherry and fig take centre stage, but are supported well by notes of cured meat, Asian spice box and black tea. Chewy and ripe, the palate is full of flavours of damson, cherry and chocolate; there are some assertive tannins, but no bitterness whatsoever. Give this a couple of years and it will be a stunner. Find this wine
It has been awhile since I was able to get to Vintages pre-release tasting and I was so pumped to attend the latest one, as Sonoma is the feature and wines from my favourite part of California have long held a special place in my heart. There is a secondary release of Piedmontese wines that is another region I have great memories of, and much to my delight, the board sent most of the red wines from both. Please read on.
148536 PAHLMEYER PINOT NOIR 2011 Sonoma Coast $100.95
Sonoma Coast produces some of the silkiest and sensational Pinot in Sonoma and this is no exception. It starts out showing plenty of sexy red fruit combined with Dutch licorice, dates, coffee cream and creamy caramel. The palate is laden with plum and dark cherry, and has perfect balance, showing the right amount of sweetness and gentle, but supportive tannins. Find this wine
215210 FLOWERS SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2012 Sonoma Coast $64.95
Beautifully crafted, showing cooler climate traits of Chardonnay, with layer of after layer of guava, citrus, mineral and pear. Oak is deftly administered; the acids are pristine and refreshing, the finish is sublime. Find this wine
982413 RIDGE LYTTON SPRINGS 2012 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County $52.95
Dark and deceitful, the noses allures one with aromas of warm brambleberry pie, Fry’s chocolate cream bar, blueberry, dried cherry, iron and mineral. All is great, but the fun stops here as the palate is almost backward, dusty and forceful, the fruit is there, but the tannins have serious grip, suggesting cellar time will bring the wonders of this wine onto the playing field. Find this wine
203208 FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA DIRECTOR’S CUT ZINFANDEL 2011 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County $32.95
Not being a fan of Coppola’s wine I am happy to find pleasing aromas of mocha, tobacco, dark currant, raspberry, underbrush and plenty of peppery spice. It carries a solid fruit laden palate with good acidity and a sound finish. Find this wine
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Australia is the principal feature of the June 7th release. I must confess to not buying a lot from down under recently, but there are a couple of tasty treats to be found.
675223 KILIKANOON KILLERMAN’S RUN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Clare Valley, South Australia $19.95
A little tight at first, but eventually it releases some dark fruit, cassis and mocha aromas, palate is tight too, but as it opens it leans towards being rather one dimensional focusing on currant and dark fruit. Find this wine
084996 WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE BLACK LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 Coonawarra, South Australia $27.95
Back in the days before the LCBO slapped their ridiculously high “Provincial Liquor fee” tariff on wines brought across the border, I used to buy this wine at Century Liquor in Rochester New York for about six bucks a bottle and I would bring back a case at a time paying a pittance on duties at the border. That was a while ago and the price has obviously increased since then, in fact it is now about $35.00 south of the border, making the asking price in the LCBO a great deal. It is so focused, the solid core of blackcurrant, polished leather, mint, eucalyptus and freshly ground black pepper is amazing. A big lift on the palate, laden with blackcurrant, cedar, chalky tannins, but well balanced, clean acidity and a long fruit focused finish. Find this wine
Quite stellar aromas of wet earth, chalk, leather, mineral and layers of dried dark fruits, lovely mix of currant and dark cherry on the palate, mixing nicely with milk chocolate, black raspberry to a finish with good length and structure. Find this wine
327395 DOMAINE TOURNON MATHILDA SHIRAZ 2011 Victoria $19.95
Black toffee, cedar, dried mushroom, tomato, bay leaf and red fruit roll up, a little chunky on the palate, lots of red fruit and a candy like sweetness on the finish. Another 94 point wine from Mr. P, so this will sell quickly. Find this wine
367425 HASELGROVE FIRST CUT SHIRAZ 2010 McLaren Vale, South Australia $18.95
Dusty and earthy, with layers of sweet dark fruit, vanilla, its palate has a sweet syrupy texture, there is plenty of acidity to balance, but it remains little jammy on the finish. Find this wine
Tree bark, forest floor, pure velvety black fruit lead to a palate that is viscous, has tingly red currant flavours bound with caramel, Asian spice and red licorice. Find this wine
290874 DOMAINE TERLATO & CHAPOUTIER LIEU DIT MALAKOFF SHIRAZ 2011 Pyrenees, Victoria $55.95
Funky and full of such oddities as damp soil, coconut shell, wet fur, shitake mushroom, rosemary, thyme, barnyard straw and mocha and a little dark fruit. Structurally, the palate is lean and surprisingly light, showing cherry and plum that disappears quickly on the finish. Robert P bestowed 95 points to this wine, maybe I am missing something, but I tasted twice with similar notes. Find this wine
Fans of wines from the Cotes Du Rhone will be very happy on May 24th especially folks, like myself, that love great quality wines at reasonable prices. The board sent most of the red wines slotted for the release, made me happy, so read on, free up your credit cards and head to the store because you won’t be disappointed.
370189 CHÂTEAU SAINT ESTÈVE D’UCHAUX MASSIF D’UCHAUX CÔTES DU RHONE VILLAGES $18.95
A beautiful nose laden with Christmas cake spice, coal dust and smoke, backed up with dark cherry, dark fruit and treacle. Super silky blueberry fruit and dried strawberry on the palate, very good concentration and good length on the finish. Find this wine
374991 CLOS BELLANE CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES VALRÉAS 2010 $19.95
An interesting blend of cedar, smoked meat, Nori and dried cherry, showing super fruit flavours of redcurrant, raspberry and blackberry on the palate all bound with milky chocolate and clean acidity. Find this wine
374983 DOMAINE COURTOIS LA GRANGE VINSOBRES 2011 $20.95
Heady aromas of black raspberry, sweet smoke, Asian spice and a whiff of mandarin peel, solid structure on the palate featuring damson and plum, black tea and a hefty layer of bitter chocolate tannin. A wine soon to be very good, but needs a little time to do so. Find this wine
374280 DOMAINE DE LA VALÉRIANE VIEILLES VIGNES CÔTES DU RHÔNE 2012 $17.95
Very ripe, projecting aromas of tar, blueberry, black pepper grounds, dried mushroom and briar, quite smooth and round on the palate showing black cherry and currant flavours controlled by a gentle layer of tannin. Find this wine
I do not have a lot to report on for this release. Believe it or not, my notes on the wines of Chile and Argentina, the feature of the release for May 10th, are M.I.A. While driving home from the tasting, the weather cleared and the sun came out. Thus I opened my windows and instantly my notes started to fly around the car and by the time I reacted, a couple of pages exited my vehicle and by now are in tatters somewhere on Highway 401. Therefore, here are the notes from the rest of the release.
145920 MARCHESI DE’ FRESCOBALDI TENUTA DI CASTIGLIONI 2011 Tuscany $21.95
An inky enticing blend of moss, black licorice, treacle and blackberry aromas with an initial firm structure of tannin on the palate, but black cherry, currant and sweet blueberry flavours shine through. Perfect acidity, well balanced, just needs time. Find this wine
326710 LIRICA PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA 2007, Puglia $18.95
Dark chocolate infused with black raspberry with a touch of mocha, pressed flowers and black pepper. Lovely flavourful palate, showing bright and fleshy flavours of blackberry, raspberry, lavender, cake spice and mellow tannins. A pleasing touch of sweetness on the finish along with a medicinal candy note, plus this wine is from the 2007 vintages, which indicates some bottle aging, rendering this very drinkable now. Find this wine
317313 CASALE DELLO SPARVIERO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2010, Tuscany $19.95
Lots of aromas featuring dried cherry, underbrush, coffee grounds, prune and dark bitter chocolate lead to a mostly fruit focused palate of blackberry, damson, cherry and currant. Simple clean finish, balanced acids and minimal tannins. Find this wine
166512 VALDEMAR INSPIRACIÓN SELECCIÓN 2010, Rioja $17.00
I enjoy writing about a wine costing $17.00 that offers so much drinking pleasure at such a young age, but that also has potential to get even better with a couple of years in slumber. A dark fruit focused wine displaying great depth of black currant, black cherry, Dutch salty licorice and ground pepper. The palate hits with a whack of Ribena, dark chocolate infused with cherry liqueur, perfect acidity with a blackcurrant focused finish enhanced with mineral. Find this wine
287961 OSCAR’S ESTATE VINEYARD SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2011 Barossa Valley, South Australia $17.95
Sawdust, wet earth, violets, blackcurrant, Middle Eastern sweet spice and milk chocolate. Its palate is solid with plenty of dark fruit, a touch of tamarind, clean acidity and gentle tannins. Find this wine
097220 TORBRECK THE STEADING 2009 Barossa Valley, South Australia $53.95
A bit of a clumsy powerhouse right now, its nose is almost Port like, brimming with dark chocolate, blueberry, tar and candy floss. There is lively acidity, it is laden with chunky dark fruit, sweet toffee and has a finish of Fry’s chocolate cream. Tannins are silky, but solid, however, this will be quite the wine given time, but nonetheless it’s tasty albeit disjointed right now. Find this wine
948992 HEDGES CELLARS CMS 2011 Columbia Valley, Washington $19.95
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah boasting aromas of dark fruit, chocolate covered raisins, Coffee Crisp candy bar, bacon/smoked meat and wet soil. It is a meaty wine, well balanced; the dark fruit shows well, a touch of pepper and spice lead to a clean and well balanced finish. Find this wine
951889 IRONSTONE OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2012 Lodi $17.00
I like the crushed blackberry, blueberry, sweet cherry, black tea, lavender and linalool aromas. It is highly extracted, but no excessive heat, solid dark fruit flavours, some peppery spice, dusty blueberry, bubble gum and dried raspberry. Find this wine
186171 DECOY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Sonoma County $33.95
Duckhorn’s second wine displays lots of dusty warm dark fruit, a little nutshell and plenty of mineral notes on the nose. A solid palate, with currant and raspberry, nice clean acidity, dusty chocolate tannins and spicy finish. Find this wine
April 26th release showcases wines from several of the lesser known regions within the vast area known as Bordeaux. In great vintages wines from these regions usually offer the consumer very good quality wines at a fraction of the price of their more affluent neighbours.
Most of the wines in this release are from the 2010 vintage along with a couple from 2009. Both were heralded and highly touted and to quote Mr. Robert P who declared ”It is an inescapable truth that 2010 has produced another year of compelling Bordeaux that will go down as a prodigious vintage alongside of 2009.”
Sadly it looks like the LCBO left it to the last minute to shop and got the dregs of what was left over from their suppliers. Many of the wines are overly ripe and extracted; full of aggressive tannins, high levels of acidity and oak, it was tough to taste through them. I fully expect young wines to have ample tannins to survive time away in the cellar, but the levels of tannin in some of these wines is in excess of the norm.
307363 CHÂTEAU LE GRAND MOULIN GRANDE RÉSERVE 2010 Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux $16.95
Bright aromas of plum, cherry and currant, backed with whiffs of cinnamon and toasty oak, the dark cherry flavour hits the palate, and all is good until a whopping veil of tannin comes along and shuts down the fun. It is astringent, tight and really shut down. Find this wine
368159 CHÂTEAU LAMARTINE 2010 Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux $16.95
A wine of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibiting enjoyable aromas of earth, lead pencil, sweet spice, blackberry and cherry. The texture is rich and ripe, but not over the top, its fruit is focused on plum, black raspberry and currant flavours, oak aging is deftly performed and the acids are in fine tune. Find this wine
365908 CHÂTEAU LE BOURDILLOT SÉDUCTION 2009 Graves $18.95
This starts nicely with gratifying aromas of red raspberry and sweet cherry mixed with forest floor and mineral. The palate however loses its seductive charm, the fruit is thin and the finish is short. Find this wine
365882 CHÂTEAU DE MONBADON 2010 Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux $18.95
A wine showing pure black fruit, dried cherry, cherry cola and forest floor aromas. It has good structure, there is some sweet oak, but the battle between fruit, tannin and oak is evident, hopefully a couple of years in a cellar may bring out its good side. Find this wine
374264 CHÂTEAU VIEILLE DYNASTIE 2011 Lalande-de-Pomerol $25.95
Very ripe, full of dark fruit, cherry cola with underlying aromas of cedar/balsa, smoked meat and tar. It teases the palate with dollops of blackberry and strawberry, the acids are clean and tannins while powerful, are dusty and tea like. Find this wine
Wines made in Veneto’s Appassimento fashion is the theme for this release on April 12th. There are some wonderful wines, but sadly there was not a lot sent for sampling, so here is my take on those that were.
650713 MONTE ZOVO SA’ SOLIN RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2011 $17.95
Very good concentration of dried fruit, polished mahogany, brown cardamom shell and cigar leaf on the nose, lively palate has vibrant blackberry and blueberry flavours with a hint of dusty cocoa on the finish. Find this wine
685107 TENUTA SANT’ANTONIO SELEZIONE ANTONIO CASTAGNEDI AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2010 $43.95
Lovely aromas of blackcurrant, tar, black tea, fresh cut flowers, new leather and dark roasted coffee grounds lead to a mouth-watering palate of pure dark fruit, perfect acidity, bitter clove and dried plum, with a dose of astringent tannin on the finish. Find this wine
300012 BRIGALDARA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 $49.95
A wine brimming with aromas of cherry cola, sweet candy, dried cherry, cassia bark and dried meat. There is a floral background too whilst heady aromas of cherry brandy take centre stage. It has seventeen degree of alcohol, which deposits some heat on the palate, it is quite astringent, dysfunctional and clumsy now, but given time, this could be quite some wine. Find this wine
333575 CAPARZO ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2011 $19.95
Earthy, with lots of aromas of wet cut grass, mineral, rosewater, damson and red currant. The fruit aromas flow through to the palate. It’s nicely balanced, lively acidity, with a note of mocha and chocolate tannins on the finish. Find this wine
The theme for the release on March 29th’ is “Thirty reasons to love Vintages.” Well after the fiasco with the allocation of the 2010 Dominus featured in the previous release, I will need way more than thirty reasons to put Vintages back on my Christmas card list. Having tasted it, I touted it as being one of the best young wines I have ever had the privilege to sample. When I went to get me some, I found the allotment for the entire Niagara region was a grand total of 0 bottles.
Oddly enough, the entire allocation went to the more affluent neighbourhoods in Ontario, namely Oakville, London, Toronto and Ottawa. At least some of our federal and provincial politicians had the chance to get their grubby little paws on a bottle or two, if I did not. Seriously, if there is not enough wine to evenly distribute through the system, sell it through Vintages on Line and use a first come first served basis.
The theme of “Thirty reasons why we should all love Vintages” is a mix of self-admiration of the Vintages organization along with numerous wines worthy of making the pick. Here are my thoughts on a few of the wines listed. There is again one wine that blew me away and there is plenty to be found in the system. It is the amazing………….Ah shucks, just read the notes Read the rest of this entry »