Archive for February, 2010


And now for the chards:

[WARNING] The following Chards are not for fans of the Old World [/WARNING]

Now that I got that out-of-the-way and without any further ado, I present to you the Aussie Chards:

First up:

2006, Yering Station, Reserve, Chardonnay, Yarra Valley

This one was aged 12 months in 40% new French Oak and 12 months in bottle with no malolactic fermentation.

It has a beautiful golden straw color. Supple nose of apricot, peaches, oaky vanilla and spiced honey. However, despite all those luscious aromas, I still detected a light crispness as of freshly sliced cold yellow apple. The oak is toasty and forward but enhances the rich tropical fruit flavours rather than overpowering them and it follows through the mid-palate, right into the long creamy (not buttery) finish, which brought a hint of crisp acidity to the mix keeping this chard from becoming a KJ butterball from down under.

2008, Wolf Blass, Gold Label, Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills

This one was fermented in seasoned French oak barrels and a portion of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. The grapes were sourced from several of the best vineyards in Adelaide Hills.

Despite its youth this young chard has a lovely color of yellow straw with hints of rose gold. The nose is also quite lovely, offering up aromas of tropical fruits and baking spice. It has a supple and creamy mouthfeel (again without being buttery) with rich flavours of white peach and apricot, accented by warm notes of toasty oak. The finish is long and luscious with just the slightest touch of clean acidity to keep it from becoming too heavy. I found this one to be every bit as balanced and complex as the Yering Station.

So thus ends my quick tasting trip down under and I can’t wait to return!


the last of the aussie cabs

Okay so here’s day two of the five Aussies:

It was a tough call as to which one I should present next so I decided to drop the last two cabs at the same time and leave the two chards for tomorrow.

So here’s the second Cab:

2004 Yalumba (Coonawarra Estate) “The Menzies”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra

This one was just a delight to pour and taste. Being a sample it had already been open for w while but I didn’t get to it until last night, giving it a good day to really open up and that is exactly what it did! It poured a deep purple in the glass with a lovely garnet rim for age. Without even swirling I got a whiff of the powerful nose on this one, which was full of dark berries and spice with cool hints of eucalyptus. The palate was treated to a rich and full-bodied mouthful of dark cherry and plum flavours with notes of vanilla oak and chocolate. Smooth yet nicely textured tannins and moderate acidity provided the backbone to lead into a long and lush finish that pulled cedar notes out of the back palate to accent the dark cherry notes. All in all this was a very well-rounded and complex pour and I loved every sip…so much so that I made sure I had two glasses left for tonight!

The third of the Aussie cabs also hails from Coonawarra:

2004 Jacob’s Creek “St. Huga”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra

Pretty much the same deal with this one as far as opening up after a day of being uncorked. Another deep dark purple pour with glints of brick-red. This nose bring almost sweet carmely notes of dried fruits and plums to the front with nice warm spicy notes of cinnamon and fine black pepper and oak to balance out the bouquet. This one presented a very muscular palate the offered up luscious dark fruits (blackberry and dark cherry) with smooth and velvety accents of spicy chocolate and toasted oak and cola. The finish was long and seductive! I also left a glass or two for tonight!

I’m really starting to fall for these Aussie cabs! They’re offering up tones of complexity and nuance without becoming hollow or wimpy.

Stay tuned for the Chards…’cause they were stellar!


the first of five aussies

Ahh I do love my job….from time to time…and last night happened to be one of those times! Thanks to the generosity of the boss and the fact that we do not carry any of the wines that were left over after a master class on wines of Australia, I was able to bring home a few bottles…five to be precise (3 cabs and 2 chards). And so here’s the first Cab:

2005 Vasse Felix, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia

This one is deep ruby-red with lovely garnet edges. It has a big nose of dark fruits with cinnamon and black pepper spice notes accented with hints of oak and cola. She is full-bodied with tons of luscious blackberry, black current and cherry flavours with notes of smokey chocolate and dried fruits. Smooth and supple tannins and a bright but not sour acidity brings a sense of balance and structure without overpowering the subtlety and nuance. The finish is long and plush with added notes of raspberry and dark cherry.

I think this one retails at around $20(USD) and if that’s the case it’s quite a complex little number for that PP.


going green

2008 Lamura Organico Rosso di Sicilia

It was a very nice pour to say the least. It took a little bit for it to open up and let that dry grassy element fade out. Once it did this wine dispayed a dark juicy profile with nice touches of warm spice, soft round tannins and a pretty lush finish. It’s a very casual pour and just right for delivered eats. 100% Organic Nero d’Avola.


fighting subjectivity

So I was having this conversation with a poster on a wine thread I frequent a lot and I came to the realization that trying to be overly creative in the writing of a tasting comparison robs the whole excersize of it’s objectivity and it’s not fair to the wines tasted or those who might read the descriptions. So short of going back and rewriting the whole thing…I’m just too lazy to do that at the moment…I’ll just add that in my book…to be honest and despite the “bout results”…both wines were total winners and I really gained a far better understanding of varietal nueances. After some Turkey Day tastings with several Beaujolais from Jadot, I wasn’t much a fan of the wine. But last night I was completely won over by the Cote de Brouilly. It was bright and clean on the palate; the fruits were supple but not syrupy; the acidity was crisp without being tart or sour and then there was this underlying hint of peppery spice that really pulled the whole thing together, and it did pair nicely with the cheeses I was nibbling on afterwards. I really enjoyed being able to truely appreciate well integrated acidity (a component I often tried to avoid) and how it really does enhance even big grape wines like a Cab. The one big lesson I took away from the tasting was a deeper appreciation and understanding of what a balanced wine really is…and now, how to better write about it.

Cheers foodguy!


Beaujolais vs. Cabernet

I went ahead and conducted my tasting portion of the second class in Understanding Wine: Beaujolais vs. Cabernet Sauvignon*. I did this, to be honest, only due to the fact that the wine buyer of my local shop insisted on buying me the Beaujolais and how could I pass that up? I was only going to buy a nice Syrah and call it an evening. However, this tasting was a lot more fun and enlightening:

On the left weighing in at 12.5% the 2007 Nicole Chanrion Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes, Cote de Brouilly

This has as intense brick-red colour followed by an intense and bright nose of cherry jello powder, rose petal and slight hints of fine black pepper spice. It was very easy on the palate, presenting itself with a tight balance of red berries, earth and spice. Light and soft tannins rounded out the bright acidity and the whole thing finished softly, with elegance and subtlety. Overall I really enjoyed this wine as a light and almost refreshing change.

And, On the Right, weighing in at 13.9% the very tech savvy 2008 Substance, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Deep ruby-red in colour with tints of garnet set the tone. A nose full of powerful aromas of dark fruits (blackberry and plum) are backed with wonderfully warm spice notes of black pepper, hints of clove and vanillin oak. Mouth coating palate with just the right amount of acidity, smooth tannins and luscious dark fruits flavours of jammy plum and dried fruits balanced by creamy notes of toasty vanilla and oak. This young cab finished long and lush and exhibited a complexity not often found in a wine of its age. Drink now for the luscious fruits or wait a year for the earth notes to rise.

So ow the result. After a well contested bout over several flights it’s Substance edging out the Beaujolais by the slightest margin!

Oh, I almost forgot. After the tasting I enjoyed an extra glass or two…or three…of each with some nice Fontina Fontal and Dutch Gouda….YUMMMM!!!!

* Please note that despite the language this tasting wasn’t to see which one was better, it was a compare and contrast lesson for the class I have to take for my wine job, to better understand how different varietals exhibit their key components and to learn how to identify the nuances that differentiate red wines.


making the grade

Today I began the Understanding Wine course offered through Wine Spectator School online. It’s a perk of working at Just Grapes. Class 1 was very basic but nice review: going over topics on how to set up a tsting, understanding how we taste and how these help us understand the wines we taste. I have to admit I was surprised at how much I had forgotten and it was really nice to learn more formal, industry terms for things I knew but sort of took for granted. The source materials that I know have will greatly improve the way I go about tasting and evaluating wines from here on out.

More to come…