2002 Lakeview Cellars Meritage VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA
I have had this bottle in my cellar for years and have thought of opening it many times. I never really thought it the right occasion or something else would pique my interest and I would choose that bottle instead. Turns out that it is wasn’t me that picked this bottle to open, but my beautiful wife that finally grabbed it and popped the cork. Actually, cork would be a misnomer as it turned out to be sealed with a synthetic “cork”, not known for being preferred for aging wines.
After passing me a glass and asking, “Does this smell off to you?” I closed my eyes, took a big whiff and responded “It sure doesn’t smell on!” With trepidation and reluctance, I took a very small sip. Good or bad, I pride myself on trying to convey the essence of the wines I taste. The time spent in bottle definitely did not improve this wine.
With a nose of melting crayon, nail polish remover, and windshield washer fluid, the colour revealed no hint of brick on the rim, something I expected from 13 years in bottle. The mouthfeel was ultra-tangy, like licking a zipper with a piece of aluminum foil in my mouth. Flavours of rotten cherries, freshly laid asphalt, and spoiled dill pickle juice. The synthetic cork was encrusted with small tartrate crystals. In this case not wine diamonds, more like wine cubic zirconias. Thoroughly awful and repugnant.
A knock on my door this evening had my brother-in-law from three doors down my street handing me a 4 litre jug of homemade wine he had just received from his next-door Italian neighbours. I know this jug is from this past year’s vintage, freshly capped, still young and vibrant. With today being Wednesday I usually log on to the #ONWineChat on Twitter so I decided that this recently gifted wine was going to be my Ontario Wine for the evening. I poured myself a glass, recapped the jug, sat down to watch Surviorman, enjoy the #ONWineChat and try this mysterious wine. I asked my beautiful wife to take a smell and tell me what she could pick out. After recoiling in horror she said “Chewing tabacco and raw sewage”, not enticing enough to make her take a sip.
Nose in, eyes closed, deep inhale. The initial aroma was harsh, like having an open zipper rubbed along the inside of my nose. A mixture of fresh cedar roof shingles, rubbing alcohol, windshield washer fluid and menthol cigarettes (still in the package). With time it opened up slightly to an odour of freshly stepped-on mushrooms. The palate was balanced with turpentine, watered down mouthwash and burnt pencil shavings. The finish was long and repugnant making me try another sip to try and clear the last, a self-induced vortex of punishment. I look forward to trying this wine in the future to see how it progresses (or regresses?!) with time.
In the house I grew up in we had a room that was the connecting room between the living room and the bathroom. We called it the “room off the bathroom” that held a sideboard, desk and curio cabinet that were inherited by my father when his parents passed away. The desk held various old papers and and had family pictures on top, the curio cabinet held my mother’s Royal Doulton figurines and other various knick-knacks gifted to her by myself and my siblings. On the sideboard, beside the crystal decanter and cocktail set, was a sterling silver jewelry box lined with cedar that held a few small pins, cuff links and tie clips. The smell and taste of this wine is the same smell as that cedar-lined box, not in an appetizing way but in a way that takes you back to a memory – a wisp of a time and place that you remember in the annuls of your mind that comes crashing back when you hear a certain song, taste a familiar taste or smell a whiff of your own personal history. I am thankful for this unexpected gift of homemade plonk and the flood of memories it induced.