Archive for the Alan Kerr Category
I had a great opportunity to sample three wines from Tom Gore Vineyards. Tom Gore was and still is a Californian farmer who has recently added wine making to his curriculum vitae by making what he sees as farm to glass wines.
Gore comes from a family with a long history of growing grapes in Sonoma Valley, but is the first of the family to venture into taking his juice a few steps further by turning it into wine of his own. His twenty year career began at the age of seven. Slave labour no, just a kid showing interest in what his father and forefathers have done for decades to make a living.
Gore studied at Cal Poly, where he earned a degree in fruit science then teamed up with Gary Sitton of Clos du Bois notoriety to start producing his brand of wines. Here are my impressions of these three.
I love finding little restaurants off the beaten track that offer honest and well prepared dishes, use seasonal stuff and have enthusiastic and professional staff in both front and back of the house. Mr. Flamingo, located in Little Portugal, a neighbourhood and ethnic enclave in Toronto’s west end, is one such place. (Click images to enlarge.)
In this restaurant a decade or so ago, locals would frequent to tell stories, drink a Metaxa brandy or two, maybe sip heady espressos and chew the bones of a plate of Piri Piri chicken. Ten years later, it is a modest little eatery serving boldly flavoured foods in a trendy and voguish, but casual, atmosphere. The 30-something seat room has a stark look to it at first, but it is thoughtfully and nicely furbished.
Tables are lined against the view of Dundas St. West and tattooed hipsters sit opposite at the bar, sipping cocktails while facing a painted brick wall upon which hangs an illuminated sign claiming “We Serve The World’s Worst Barbecued Ribs.”
G’day mates, a few Aussie wines are to be rocked up on the shelves of your local bottle-O store this coming weekend. Stylistically, Australian wines have changed over the past few years, much to this cobber’s liking. Many of these wines are totally bonza and some even got the old fella excited! Perfect to sip on a sunny arvo with some tucker on the Barbie, and you’ll have a ripper of a time. (Click images to enlarge.)
943399 D’ARENBERG THE COPPERMINE ROAD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010 McLaren Vale, South Australia mL $49.95
Power packed, aromas of eucalyptus, mint, Ribena, black sweet cherry, mineral and smoke. Rich and chewy palate, with gorgeous layers of red and dark fruit, some spiciness, ground black pepper and ripe dusty tannins that stick to your teeth like candy. A very good price too as it is considerably more expensive elsewhere. Find this wine
048785 D’ARENBERG THE LOVE GRASS SHIRAZ 2011 McLaren Vale, South Australia $25.95
Some funk, muddy wet soil and mineral, but a solid background of dark fruit and blackberry lurks beneath. A touch of coffee grounds, very tasty black raspberry and blackberry flavours, with good acidity and a sprinkle of dark chocolate on the finish. Find this wine
408328 DE BORTOLI GULF STATION SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2010 Yarra Valley, Victoria$19.95
Earthy, floral and mineral aromas give way to prune, tar, cigar box and forest floor; lots of juicy cherry and plum flavours, chewy tannins and good length. Find this wine
The release for May 2nd has three features. One can choose to peruse through some wines from New Zealand, a small allotment yes, but there are some tasty Sauv Blancs. Fans of Germanic wines can sample some of Germany’s next generation’s style of wine. Or, to make us really believe that summer is just around the corner, there are several Rosé wines to chill down and assist with some long awaited patio sipping. (Click images to enlarge.)
095679 SAINT CLAIR PIONEER BLOCK 2 SWAMP BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 Dillons Point, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand $24.95
Far from the typical in your face Sauvignon Blanc here. This has aromas of earth, apple orchard, tangerine, tomato leaf and citrus. The palate is rich with concentrated tropical fruit, kiwi, Meyer lemons, papaya and baked apple. I really like this style of sauvignon Blanc. Find this wine
063941 MAHI SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 Marlborough, South Island $19.95
Very brazen, showing grassy, gooseberry, thyme and cumquat aromas; palate offers great acidity, lots of candied citrus notes and a herbaceous character that runs well into the finish. Find this wine
411603 TE WHARE RA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 Marlborough, South Island $24.95
Stony mineral, candied lime and gooseberry, quite grassy. Fresh squeezed grapefruit is the featured flavour on the palate, acidity is crisp, with hints of melon and papaya on the finish. Find this wine
408625 OPAWA PINOT GRIS 2014 Marlborough, South Island$16.95
Floral, stone fruit, toffee and apple candy aromas; nicely set palate, well balanced with apple and nectarine flavours, a rich chewy texture and caramel note on the finish. Find this wine
There are few moments of pleasure and satisfaction that are better than going to eat at a restaurant where a former student is in charge of the kitchen. Even better, my great friend and fellow chef Ruth Nixon and I were able to prop ourselves at the counter of the open kitchen and gaze at the goings on at the pass. As a topper, local lad makes good, Chef Anthony Greco (shown below, photo courtesy of zestfonthill.com), suggested we abandon menus, throw caution to the wind and trust him to serve what he felt would be his unsurpassed and finest food. (Click images to enlarge.)
Anthony Greco graduated from Niagara College eight years ago. Having apprenticed in numerous eateries in and around the region, he is now in charge of the stoves at Zest, a highly touted restaurant in Fonthill, a small hamlet just outside of Niagara.
Within minutes of being seated, a plate of P.E.I “Shiny Seas” briny and aromatic oysters arrived, all perfectly shucked, plump, juicy and neatly garnished with freshly grated horseradish and lemons.
Zest is one of numerous restaurants in the Niagara area that offers its clients the option to bring their own wine, aka corkage, so I had grabbed a couple of bottles from the cellar before we left.
(Editor’s note: When C. Z. was in town a few weeks ago, I handed him a tasting note he had written on his previous visit a few months before, a copy of which can be seen on the right. I couldn’t read the damned thing, but figured that, since he wrote it, he probably could. I asked him to transcribe it during his stay with us, because this wine, even in its relative youth, was just so impressive. As things turned out, we were so busy having fun, he never found the time to do the translation, so last week, I sent him the scanned copy and asked him again to write up his notes. This time, he got back to me quickly, and we’ve held off until our Easter weekend adventures were fully documented to share this now. Since this youngster is only 24 years old, we doubt that it has undergone much change since late last year. Click images to enlarge.)
1990 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chateau Clerc-Milon Pauillac: Aromas of sweet black licorice, topped with caramel and toffee. Then a little note of sea air and iodine creep in along with a little cinnamon and sweet spice. Earthy notes of straw, cedar and tomato essence become apparent along with dark raspberry, chocolate and grilled Portobello.
Cooked strawberry, pepper and aggressive tannins, but evolving nicely as it opens. After an hour it becomes punchy, very chewy with ripe blackcurrant that shows its youthful character and its primary stage. Layers of red gum, plum and prune and tasty and the length is solid. Find this wine
A little late for Ontario’s family day, but the think tank of the Vintages releases has come up with a theme entitled “Putting family first”, Wines from Europe’s “Primum Familiae Vini and California’s Wagner Family”. There are some gems to be found on April 18th, but sadly few of these wines fall into the “pick up a couple tasty wines for the weekend” category. However, for those with deep pockets will be like kids in a candy store. (Click images to enlarge.)
Wines of “BodegasTorres Influential Spanish globetrotters “
381046 MIGUEL TORRES ALTOS IBÉRICOS CRIANZA 2012 Rioja, Spain $16.95
Torres does produce an array of wines at all price points and these two are affordable. This 100% Tempranillo has clean fruity aromas, but with an odd plastic note; the palate, carries strawberry and red berry flavours. Tannins are low and the soft acidity renders it drinkable now. Find this wine
210872 TORRES CELESTE CRIANZA 2011 Ribera del Duero, Spain $20.95
Bacon fat, thyme, dark chocolate combine with a mix of red and dark fruit on the nose. A tasty palate shows dark fruit enhanced with mocha while tight tannins grow powerful on the finish. Give it a little time in a decanter and this will show well. Find this wine
This release showcases some interesting juice from Italy’s famed Verona region. There are some tasty wines, but the French contingent impressed me far more in terms of value and drinking quality. My advice is to just read on…
Wines of the Month
990440 KENWOOD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Sonoma County, California $23.95
Nice aromas of forest floor, ripe black fruit, mostly currant, Chinese black mushrooms, spice box and cedar. Good concentration, a little spicy now, but decanting will help, tannins are medium. Fun wine. Find this wine
672931 ALLEGRINI PALAZZO DELLA TORRE 2011 Veronese, Italy $24.95
Oozing notes of blackberry, cassis, cherry liqueur, mocha, pressed flowers and lavender. A little fruit forward on the palate, but bitter chocolate helps to balance, finishing with cherry and anise. Find this wine
WINES FROM THE VENETO RELEASE
403840 LE BERTAROLE PODERE CARIANO AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2009 $44.95
Very tight in its youth, teasing with notes of hay, straw and with much coaxing, hints of chocolate, caramel and dark fruit appear. It is sweeter than anticipated, as raspberry liqueur takes centre stage accented by cinnamon and anise. Quite disjointed right now, but time will render good stuff. Find this wine
332403 DONATONI MASSENÀ APPASSIMENTO 2011 $16.95
Very fruity, bolstered with mint and floral aromas and coffee grounds; an odd sweetness hits the palate along with cough candy, blueberry and blackberry. Down side is it finishes rather stickily. Find this wine
Editor’s note: For more on the Appassimento method of winemaking, go here.
181446 FEUDI SAN PIO RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE 2012 $17.95
Enticing floral aromas complete with cake spice, dark fudge, balsa and sweet vanilla bean; lovely sweet flavours of cherry and currant. Some grip and the solid tannins do suggest time. Find this wine
The wines of Spain take centre stage for the January 24th release. Spanish wines are usually fairly priced in the LCBO and many of these wines offer the consumer great wines at reasonable prices. Lots to buy so please read on……
Wines of Spain
392522 FINCA LOS ALIJARES GRACIANO 2009 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla $17.95
Very concentrated, laden with dark fruit, sweet rhubarb, caramel and nutmeg; plenty of blackcurrant flavours, with a touch of cherry, mineral, aggressive tannins and a touch of heat. Give it time. Find this wine
393140 DOMINIO DOSTARES ESTAY PRIETO PICUDO 2011 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León $15.95
Dark fruit, Fry’s chocolate cream bar, a touch of mocha and mint; juicy plum flavours, earthy, great acidity and gentle tannins. Find this wine
391896 VINESSENS SEIN 2011 Alicante $17.95
Sweet blackberry and currant, dark chocolate, thyme and Herbes de Provence; sweet chewy fruit, pings of anise and cardamom, good acidity and a decent finish. Find this wine
$17.95 SUEÑO TEMPRANILLO 2011 DO Ribera del Júcar $18.95
A lovely combination of blackberry, cherry and plum, mostly fruit focused nose, but the touch of lavender is pleasing; luscious chewy palate, good structure, some spice and mocha cream on the finish. Find this wine
392993 MACHO MAN MONASTRELL 2012 Jumilla $18.95
Chunky and clumsy, jammy black fruit, sweet oak and sandalwood; low acidity, sweet chewy texture, little hint of spice and an overly sweet finish. Find this wine
398685 BURÓ DE PEÑALOSA CRIANZA 2009 Ribera del Duero $23.95
A forceful mix of French and American oak, plenty of dark fruit, blueberry, tar, fresh flowers and coal dust; nicely balanced palate, some anise and bay leaf and a touch of heat on the finish, but overall a very good wine. Find this wine
It’s January, things are a little less hectic, the holiday haste is done and life is supposedly back to some sense of normality. Cellars tend to get depleted over the jovial season and if that is the case, one can stock up with a few of the wines from Vintages “Smart Buys” release.
WINES OF THE MONTH
256693 CONCHA Y TORO SERIE RIBERAS GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Marchigue, Central Valley, Chile $17.95
Blasts out aromas of Cassis, Ribena, polished wood, Asian spice, anise and bay leaf; strange soapy/cardamom taste, dark fruit does come through, with good structure and gentle tannins. Find this wine
657411 VIÑA REAL PLATA CRIANZA 2010 Rioja, Spain $18.95
Lots of mocha, dried flowers, black raspberry, bitter chocolate, black tea, and forest floor, but a musty note interrupts. Good chewy dark fruit, but the musty note hits on the finish. A bad bottle perhaps. Find this wine
SMART BUYS LISTINGS
234518 LAMADRID SINGLE VINEYARD RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina $15.95
Very tight; some sweet spice, red fruit and raspberry start to show, light palate, with some currant flavours and low tannins. Just a simple wine. Find this wine
123489 CHÂTEAU HAUCHAT 2011 AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France $15.95
Mushroom and a little earthy beet, with plenty of ripe dark plum fruit; low acid palate, where blackcurrant shines, with some grip and spice on finish. Find this wine
395053 12 E MEZZO PRIMITIVO DEL SALENTO 2012 Puglia, Italy $13.95
Juicy dark fruit, cough candy medicinal notes, black sweet licorice, dusty, pleasing sweet berry flavours; good acidity, a little cloying on finish. Find this wine
124883 CLOS DU BOIS MERLOT 2012 North Coast, California $16.95
Dark with some mineral notes, black cherry, chocolate shavings; palate shows black raspberry and dark fruit. Simple structure, gentle tannins. Find this wine
171025 PUIG-PARAHY CUVÉE GEORGES 2011 Côtes du Roussillon, Midi, France $16.95
Maltesers, creamy coffee crisp bar, Asian spice, tar and black fruit. The disappointing palate shows light in comparison to its nose; dark fruit is there, but pales and the finish is rather light. Find this wine
395236 LAFAGE CÔTÉ SUD 2012 Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, France $14.95
60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, showing lovely floral aromas; layers of dark fruit and tar, blackberry and currant flavours are ripe and chewy, with a silky texture sweet spice on the finish. Find this wine