2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

2003 Château Pipeau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

I cooked a pig the other night and was happy to have some company from a good friend of mine that puts Saint-Emilion Merlots as his favourite wines. When I do an overnight smoke of a pig I like to enjoy a bottle of wine and listen to Coast To Coast AM radio on AM640. I find it hard to open a full size bottle as when I drink a bottle to myself i get a little bit tipsy, not the best idea when you are tending to a 150 pound pig and a bunch of fire. I knew exactly what wine to open and went with the oldest vintage of Château Pipeau in my cellar (besides a couple magnums of the 2000) to see how it was faring 11 years on.

Colour of vibrant crimson with the slight emergence of a garnet rim, some fine sediment thrown. Nose of ripe red fruits (raspberry, ripe plum, mulberry) mixed with fresh violets and damp stone. These flavours are replayed on the palate with smooth integrated tannins and a remarkable freshness for the bottle age. Gorgeous, the best value for a premium quality wine in this price point. Great wine to go with great company.

Château Pipeau has been a favourite of my beautiful wife and I since we discovered it on a trip to Bordeaux during one of the best meals I have had in my life at L’Envers du Décor in Saint Emilion. Château Pipeau is now part of the LCBO Vintages Essentials program and is widely available, current list price of $38.95, on sale until October 12, 2014 for $35.95.


Wines of the World – Palgrave Rotary

This past Saturday I had the honour of attending the 17th Annual Wines of the World Fundraiser held by Palgrave Rotary Club at the EMG Complex in Palgrave. This event is the largest fundraiser for the Palgrave Rotary Club and is a wonderful chance to meet others from the area and try a large number of wines all in one place. The event showcases a number of domestic and international wines that are general list at the LCBO and available for under $20. Numerous tasting stations are set-up with each pouring 2-3 wines alongside food stations, a couple beer stations and a station featuring some of Caledon’s own Pommies Dry Cider. Only 2.5 hours long, it is tough to sample all of the 35+ beverage choices offered, but I tried my best and made notes on the 17 I did have a chance to partake in. Although I had tried a number of the these wines in the past, most of what I tried were new vintages and due to the sheer volume my tasting notes are somewhat abbreviated. In no particular order, here are the whites followed by the reds.

Lindsay from Pommies Dry Cider offering samples

Lindsay from Pommies Dry Cider offering samples

Pommies Dry Cider – Lovely apple notes, not too sweet, not too tart, great balance. Made in Caledon, my go-to cider choice. Excellent and highly recommended.

Grant Burge 2011 Chardonnay

Grant Burge 2011 Chardonnay

2011 Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay, Australia – Nose of lemon zinginess, flavours of lemon, acidic zinginess, really zingy. Better with food to balance out the zinginess.

2012 Carl Reh Riesling Kabinett, Germany – One of my favourites, a classic German Riesling at 8.5% alcohol, light and refreshing. Aromas of lime and brightness. Tastes just like lime bar mix with a pleasant residual sweetness. Reminded me of my time as a Rotary Exchange Student in Germany (Berlin, Potsdam, Werder) and the everyday wine that I drank with the Erdmann Family.

2011 Chateau Des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA, Canada – Another favourite, I have tried a few past vintages of this wine and have been impressed with the flavours and elegance. Nose of apple, butterscotch and lemon pith, a gorgeous mouthfeel, taste of vanilla’d apple tart. Finish makes you want to drink some more. Delicious.

2013 Pansy Rose Kim Crawford, New Zealand – The only Rose I tried, an easy drinking summer wine with a little acidity to balance the sweetness. Nose of strawberry and rhubarb complimented by cherry and raspberry on the palate.

2010 Creekside Laura’s Red VQA, Canada – Classic Bordeaux nose with dark fruits, graphite, and stoney dirt. Refined flavours of ripe plum, cherry and raspberry jam with a nice tannin grip. Lovely and delicious.

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, USA – Didn’t write down the vintage (’11 maybe?) but from what I can remember tasting this previously is that it is consistent in style between specific vintages. Aromas and flavours of dark red fruits, black fruits, cedar. Classic jammy Napa Cab high in alcohol and big fruit but balanced and lovely.

Palgrave Rotary Wines of the World

Palgrave Rotary 17th Annual Wines of the World

2011 Pirramimma Petit Verdot, Australia – Great nose of dark tar and dark fruits. Dark and brooding on the palate with delicious young tannins and a spicy finish.

2011 Hautes Cotes De Nuits, France – Nice nose of bright cherry that was replayed on the palate however somewhat muted. Better to smell than to drink. Meh, nothing special.

2013 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir, New Zealand – Nose of brick red fruits, pleasant lighter style of Pinot with an acidic tang to balance the cherry, raw beet, tart raspberry.

2012 Fifth Leg Carbernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot, Australia – Nose of dark fruits, blackberry, mulberry. Blackberry flavours with an overly acidic finish and alcohol burn. Not a big fan of this style of blend tasted on it’s own, needs to be paired with food.

Palgrave Rotary 17th Annual Wines of the World

Palgrave Rotary 17th Annual Wines of the World

2012 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia – Nose of cedar, tar, toasted barrel. Dry, dry dry tannins paired with black fruit. Young and closed still, will be great in a couple years.

2009 Monte Antico IGT, Italy – Smooth, still bright on the nose and palate with cherry raspberry and ripe plum. Great value on an easy drinking red.

2011 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon, USA – Big nose of cherry jam, replayed with sweet raspberry jam, ripe red cherry, tart tannins. Nice California Cab.

2011 Las Rocas Garnacha, Spain – Raspberry jam nose, found the mouthfeel spicy, harsh and tangy. Not a fan of this offering.

2012 G Marquis Pinot Noir VQA, Canada – Starts off with aromas of earthen cherry and vanilla replayed on the palate with beet root juice and great acidic balance. Beautiful young Niagara Pinot.

2011 Cathedral Cell Cabernet Sauvignon, South Africa – Lighter style of Cabernet Sauvignon, not as good as the Rodney Strong. Lighter red fruits, underripe strawberry and raspberry. Meh, nothing special.

2010 Montecillo Crianza, Spain – Lighter style of Tempranillo with bright tannins. Cherry, ripe plum, hint of cedar on both nose and palate. Better with food.

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Wednesday night is #ONWineChat on Twitter. I try to open an Ontario Wine and with this week’s topic being #Cuvee2014 that is coming up in a couple weeks I thought a wine was needed to reflect the grand nature of a Cuvée Gala. I had put this bottle in the fridge for two weeks prior but didn’t end up opening it. Tonight was the night to open this aged Icewine, one of bottles I have had in my cellar the longest. I can’t remember exactly where I got this, but I think it was on sale many years at the local LCBO. I really like aged Icewines for the added luxury that time gives.

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine A gorgeous golden hue

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine
A gorgeous golden hue

The colour of golden glory, a deep burnt yellow. The nose was Sherry-like at first with roasted nutty sweetness, changing to notes of freshly pulled Laur’s Butterscotch and Lemon Salt Water Taffy from their booth at the Norfolk County Fair. Beautiful wife thought the nose had a hint of hard maple candy and apricots.

The mouthfeel is smooth like silk, a luxurious sweetness balanced by refined acidity, not cloying at all, vibrant in an aged way, with a whisper of winter softened tannins. Candied pineapple, preserved lemon, lanolin and happiness. Beautifully rotten grape juice.

Wine that smells of memories

Gifted Homemade Jug o' WineA 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.

2004 Wildass Red – Stratus Winery

2004 Wildass Red – Stratus Winery

I picked up this bottle on a trip to Niagara in 2007 with a group of friends as we went down to Niagara Falls for a birthday (Glen I believe) and we stopped at a couple wineries on our way down to the Falls. Actually, more than a couple, slightly more than a few. If I remember correctly there were 9 stops before we headed to Canyon Creek Steakhouse at Fallsview Casino for a great diner. This gong-show winery tour, and by gong-show I mean that they would have never hit that big gong as they would’ve wanted to see what happened next as we cruised from one winery to the next, getting sloppier and sloppier as we went. I tend to remember we hit, in no particular order; Maleta, Pondview, Stratus, Pilliteri, Angel’s Gate, Thirty Bench, Kacaba, Lailey and Peller Estates. I remember clearly that Peller was our last stop as we had just finished a screw-top bottle of Riesling from Angel’s Gate (which was excellent) on the way over. I took a little longer doing my tastings at Peller, having squirrelled my way upstairs to the  “exclusive” tasting bar to sample some of the older vintages. I walked out to the parking lot to see one of our group (who shall remained unnamed) cracking open a bottle of the Peller Ice Cuvee purchased moments before and passing it around brown-bag style, just without the brown bag. We unanimously decided, after quickly finishing the bottle, our winery tour had been successful and headed towards the Falls.

2004 Wildass Red

Stratus 2004 Wildass Red

I am a big fan of Stratus’ 2nd label, Wildass. My first taste of Wildass came at an Orangeville restaurant, 199 (named after it’s address 199 Broadway Avenue, in downtown Orangeville) a couple years previously. Some of my most cherished bottles in my cellar are Stratus wines and it is one of my must-visit stops whenever I get down to the Niagara area. This was my last bottle of 2004 Wildass Red, thankfully still have 2005 through 2009 to enjoy in the future. A Wildass was requested by my brother-in-law for Sunday Dinner to go with Smoked Chicken, Scalloped Potates, Sautéed Zucchini and Buttered Carrots. When it comes to food-wine pairings I tend to follow the good food-good wine theory, picking a good wine to go with the good food I prepare.

I really like wine that smells and tastes like flowers and rocks. With time this 2004 Wildass Red opened to notes of violets, red fruits (cherry, red currents, raspberries). The red fruits were replayed on the palate along with sweet tannins that were silky smooth and totally delicious, like flat limestone river rocks that were thrown through a berry patch. The finish made me want to keep drinking this down in gulps, with all of my willpower needed to prevent me from guzzling it. Thankfully I was able to savour every sip, taking my time to thoughtfully remember the trip on which it was acquired. At 10 years of age this doesn’t have much longevity left, if you happen to have any in your cellar I would suggest a sooner-rather-than-later timeframe for drinking. But please, if you do have some old Wildass, enjoy it with good company. And as you open it think of screw-top Rieslings and slugs of sparkling wine straight from the bottle in winery parking lots.

My last bottle of Wildass 2004 Red