Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maturity and Cellaring Time

Each wine in a Vintages Release includes a description that comes from a variety of sources: reviewers local to the wine, our own local reviewers, distributors or, if nothing else is available, an anonymous panel or wine tabloid. Only a few of the notes carry much currency in my view so, unless the reference is a current review from The Wine Spectator or A. Gismondi, I tend to ignore them - altho‘ most of the descriptions are included as part of my blog entries - and I haven’t paid much attention to the symbol included with each wine description. Vintages uses three: ‘drink‘, ‘drinkhold’ and ‘hold‘ if I go by their .gif names. The specific meanings are likely somewhere in a catalogue or webpage but I haven’t found them yet.

Except for Rod Phillips’ WinePointer I haven’t seen any similar symbols used by other reviewers. Nor, if a rating system is used, no mention of points attributed to either Cellaring Potential or Maturity, one being a projection of time taken and likelihood to improve and the latter being the here and now. Why I even look for these indicators is likely the notion ingrained as a member of the Opimian Wine Society.

My opinion is that every wine review to be complete should indicate somehow a wine’s maturity and cellaring potential. When an ‘Opimian’ - I was well past my fifteenth year before leaving - I stuck labels on each bottle repositioning drinkables as they came to maturity. The Opimian symbols (see inset, sorry for the fuzz) cover everything: Current Maturity of a wine, Current drinkability, a Projection of Time to Cellar, and How long a wine is likely to be at peak. The symbols are easily understood and well thought out.

Since going on my own I haven’t been as meticulous - I no longer label. I simply locate newly bought wines in different sections of the wine racks labelled: Drink Now(DN), Lay Down 2Yrs(L2), Lay Down Longterm(LD), Sparklers, Desserts, For Tasting(T). Whites, rosés and reds are kept separate so I can balance purchases with our consumption. Sometimes a bottle gets forgotten or prematurely put on the dinner table but in a small cellar (1000 btls) nothing really gets lost that often nor for long. This blog lets me keep track of the history of wines bought and tasted and a quick search using the LCBO SKU, a Label or Winery leads me to my original notes.

There seems to be uncertainty in most approaches to gauging Maturity and Cellaring Time. They don’t follow any mathematical rules depending more on prior experience and a knowledge of what to look for in a tasting of a particular wine. Both could be tied closely to individual tastes. Cellaring Time is a thumbsuck and has a dependency on where a wine is to be stored. Storing at a consistent 57F and controlled humidity allows for longer cellaring than in a basement closet at 67F and seasonal/home heating humidity changes for instance. Does a wine have enough fruit, tannin, acid? Does it have an appropriate balance of these elements and will this balance change such that the wine improves or fades over time turning today's attributes into delights or discards? It comes down to assessing and predicting how a complex liquid will evolve. I try to include my prediction of Drinkability and Cellaring Time verbally in every My notes… then update it whenever I Retaste.
My opinion, Ww

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

June 2009 Wines: 20 Tasted of 20

Some wines are bought on spec. and some are brought to the house by kind guests (g). When tasted wines are sequenced by rating and grouped by red, white then rosé.

Cheers, Ww

  • Chalten Gran Seleccion Malbec 2007, 92-2  -- V, Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina, #114215 $18.95
  • Neudorf 'Tom’s Block' Pinot Noir 2007, 92-2  -- V, Nelson, NZ, #120790 $26.95
  • Ferngrove Shiraz 2007, 92-2  -- V, Western Australia, #090282 $16.95
  • Pikes ‘The Assemblage’ Shiraz/Mourvedre/Grenache 2006, 91-2 -- V, Clare Valley, Australia, #014332 $18.95
  • Chakana ‘Andean Wines’ Malbec 2007, 90-2  -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #003509 $13.95
  • Truchard Zinfandel Napa Valley 2003, 90-2 -- V, Carneros, USA, #054858 $18.95
  • Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, 90-1 -- V, Central Otago, NZ, #093708 $29.95
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, 89-2 -- G, Australia, #251876 $16.45 
  • Temple Bruer Grenache/Shiraz/Viognier 2005, 88-1 -- V, Longhorne Creek, Australia, #090290 $17.95 
  • Chakana ‘Andean Wines’ Malbec 2008, 77 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #003509 $13.95
  • Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, 90-2  -- V, BC, #377770 $19.95
  • Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2006, 90-1 -- V, Leyda Valley, Chile, #077693 $20.95
  • Brancott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007, 89-2  -- G, Marlborough, NZ, #129528 $14.95
  • Ajello MaJus Grillo/Catarratto 2007, 89-1 -- V, Sicily, Italy, #670844 $16.95

  • Sogrape Gazella Rosé NV, 84 -- G, Beiras, Portugal, #125757 $8.95
  • Cave Spring Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82 -- G, Jordan, Canada, #295006 $12.95
  • Anakena Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2008, 81 -- G, Rapel Valley, Chile, #122432 $10.95
  • J.P. Chenet Classic Collection Cinsault Grenache Rosé 2008, 80 -- G, Pays d’Oc, France, #125815 $9.95
  • Cono Sur Merlot Rosé 2008, 80 -- G, Chile, #122481 $9.95
  • Lancers Rosé NV, 75 -- G, Dao, Portugal, #078931 $7.95
(G - General listing, V – Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)
BRANCOTT MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007, Marlborough, NZ, 12.5% D, #129528 $14.95 (Tasted June 1, 2009)  CS

A General listing described anonymously as “Pale straw yellow colour; intense aromas of grass, pear, gooseberry, fresh herbs, with notes of passion fruit; dry, light and clean palate with a zesty, fresh, pink grapefruit, lime; mouth-watering finish. Serve with hors d'oeuvres, oysters, goat cheese dishes, or poached salmon topped with steamed asparagus and hollandaise sauce.” My notes: A delicate blond in the glass with an equally delicate nose of gooseberry, nettles and lime - quite appealing. The first sip is appealing as well, with a gentle nip, a light roundness and flavours of gentle gooseberry, lime and cream. The nip carries well into the long flavourful finish. An uncomplicated drink now that should cellar up to two years. Also a sociable, light-bodied sipper or have with seafoods or asparagus and cilantro soup with shrimp on greens. 89

BRANCOTT RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2006, Central Otago, NZ, 13.0% D, #093708 $29.95 (Tasted June 4, 2009)  CS

Release by Vintages on April 11, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (Feb 2009) as “… this Pinot Noir is medium ruby in colour: actually quite deeply hued for the variety. A bouquet of sweet raspberry, ripe cherry, and freshly tilled earth floods the senses, leading to aroma replays on the smooth, silky-textured palate. Great length and balance add to the wine's considerable charms.” My notes: There is a slate tone to the mid ruby colour and a dark berry nose, a touch sweat and tang to the nostrils. Fast legs on a swirl and the first sip shows a some silk, a balance of tang, tannin and blended fruit mostly of bright red currants. The long finish starts with the bright red currant start, is smooth, and leads to a continuous light tang with some youthfulness. Cellaring for a few years could develop more silkiness and some interesting spice and fruit medleys. If you like a youthful pinot noir it’s a drink now but I’d recommend waiting for full value. 90

CHALTEN GRAN SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2007, Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina, 14.5% XD, #114215 $18.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described anonymously as “... [Pascal] Marchand works with Chilean winemaker Pablo Herra and Argentinean Ricardo González to craft superb wines like this ripe-and-ready Malbec. Packed with mixed berry, cherry, leather and vanilla aromas and flavours, this red will make a natural partner for roasted game meats or barbecued beef over the next 2-3 years. “ My notes: Purple hued with a firm film and slow tears on the glass laying an impression of full-bodied and silky. A black currant nose with vanilla hints precedes soft tannins, a drying tartness and a ripe black currant and berry flavour, skins and all. The finish balances a fading black fruit against an increasing smooth, dry tartness - perhaps not as ‘hot‘ as the alcohol level would suggest. A bold sipper with lots of flavour appeal and should cellar well up to four years. Have with any grilled or barbecued meats… ribs especially. 92

FERNGROVE SHIRAZ 2007, Western Australia, 14.5% D, #090282 $16.95 (Tasted June 11, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described and rated 94/100 by Australian critic James Halliday (June 2008) as “Deep crimson-purple; highly aromatic and saturated with dark plum, blackberry and an array of spices, all making significant inputs to a medium- to full-bodied wine which will age superbly. Great value.” My notes: Decant or air for thirty minutes. The light earthy, blackberry nose suggests old world and the slow tears says medium- to full-body confirmed by the first sip. There is a velvety texture to dark fruit flavours, fine tannins and not quite teeth cleaning acids. The finish is long, hot and bright. A bold sipper not for everyone and better left for several years to mellow and soften its character. If you persist have with well seasoned beef tenderloin, pepper steak or Texas chili. 92

NEUDORF TOM'S BLOCK PINOT NOIR 2007, Nelson, NZ, 14.0% D, #120790 $26.95 (Tasted June 10, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described by NZ critic Sue Courtney (Feb 4, 2009) as “Dark garnet with a fading edge. Smoky, savoury and spicy on the nose and quite sweet in the palate with the abundant cherry and strawberry fruit. Medium-bodied in style, it has a spicy backbone with a silky smooth texture and a savoury finish.” My notes: One of almost two dozen wineries in Nelson on NZ’s South Island and west of the better known Marlborough region. We last visited in 2003 so I was curious as to how their pinot noir was progressing. The colour is a slate tinged ruby and a swirl leaves slow tears on the bowl. Smoky black cherry, soft and light, precedes a silky first sip of delicate cherry, light liquorice and earth tones flavouring the mouth and finishing with a savoury medley of dark fruit preserves. The silk makes this a delectable sipper or save for a grilled main course. And it should cellar well for a few years perhaps emphasizing the spicy side of its character. 92
QUAILS' GATE CHARDONNAY 2006 VQA Okanagan Valley, BC, 14.0% D, #377770 $19.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described anonymously as “Considering how warm the Okanagan can be, this crisp, cool and green apple-fresh Chardonnay suggests a much more moderate climate. The refreshing nature is very appealing, especially with the addition of grapefruit, melon and honey aromas and flavours. Enjoy this fine wine with poached wild-caught Pacific salmon with a lemon-dill sauce.” My notes: BC wines seldom cross over the totalitarian restrictions of the Ontario border so this was an unexpected purchase. This has a soft blond colour and a nose full of wild honey, sweet pea and spice. There’s lots of spice and tang in the first sip, balanced with a natural sweet layer making this a refreshing sipper for a summer day. A long and warm finish carries the flavours well ending with the spice. It paired well with grilled Atlantic salmon, brown rice and snap peas and should with seafood pastas or Asian fare. Drink now - up to two years cellaring could add more depth. 90

PIKES 'THE ASSEMBLAGE' SHIRAZ/ MOURVEDRE/GRENACHE 2006, Clare Valley, Australia, 14.5% XD, #014332 $18.95 (Retasted June 1, 2009)  CS

My notes: Last September this was rated 92 with the note “… the finish is forever, dry, full of smoky berries and currants….” Now a half year later the sweetness is gone, perhaps my buds now, firmer acids with the flavour of dark berries and faint currants. The nose has a tang to mostly ripe blackberries. A fuller medium-bodied, bold sipper and a good red meat companion - just OK with burgers but a steak or rack of rosemary’d lamb would be a better match. Still with a long spicy finish full of smoky berries. This is cellaring well and has developed the start of a velvet texture. 91
AJELLO MAJUS GRILLO/CATARRATTO 2007, Sicily, Italy, 14.0% XD, #670844 $16.95 (Tasted June 20, 2009)  CS

A Vintages release on February 28, 2009 described anonymously as “A 50/50 blend of the local grapes Grillo and Catarratto. Grillo is known for its full body, while Catarratto, when in the right hands, can produce fine, crisp and characterful wines. Together, it is a near-perfect partnership. The result is a full-bodied, fresh and crisp wine with citrus, yellow plum, pear, peach and sweet herb notes. Enjoy this lively wine with pan-fried fish or Cioppino (the Italian version of bouillabaisse).” My notes: I haven’t tasted these grapes before so thought to give this blend a try. The colour is a light blond and, if there is one, the nose is a faint honey. Flavours are an interesting melon, honey and green apple starting with a distinct fruity seam as it fades slowly on the palate leaving a warm grassy edge. Nicely balanced acid with fruit, a medium-bodied dry sipper or pair with grilled black cod or lightly oiled, cheesed and herbed seafood pastas. I believe most imbibers would go for refills. 89

TRUCHARD ZINFANDEL NAPA VALLEY 2003, Carneros, USA, 14.2% XD, #054858 $18.95 (Retasted June 2, 2009)  CS

My notes: Rated 90 in January 2008 when last tasted. Made from 100% Napa Carneros grapes, I’d say the blackberry has left the nose altho’ the colour is a rich crushed blackberry. There’s a reasonable film on the bowl leaving long and fast legs, medium-bodied with a clean and dry mouthfeel. Silky from the first sip to the long finish, a slight metallic note with a blending of zingy blackberry blueberry and a depth that continues to shift adding warm herbal tones. The relative lightness as a sipper is delectable more so than a fruitier zinfandel. This would be great with rack of lamb, Italian sausage or lamb shank. Cellaring well and should for a few more years. Too bad it’s no longer stocked however the 2006 is $25US on the winery website and could be as high as $35 at Vintages. 90
J.P. CHENET CLASSIC CINSAULT GRENACHE ROSÉ 2008, Pays d’Oc, France, 12.0% MD, #125815 $9.95 (Tasted June 8, 2009)  CS

A General listing without a description. My notes: There is a tinge of peach to the light pink colour in the glass and a delicate perfume of stone fruit and strawberry. Dry to the taste and flavours of slight strawberry, raspberry and clay, just enough to notice, perhaps with a touch of natural sweetness. The finish is a balance of delicate fruit, dry and everso slight roundness. This would be an economical summer garden party sipper. Likely not enough tartness for a main course and not enough for a buffet spread… have with light finger foods or just sip on a hot day. The J P Chenet bottle is distinctive for sure. 80

CONO SUR MERLOT ROSÉ 2008, Chile, 12.5% MD, #122481 $9.95 (Tasted June 9, 2009)  CS
A General listing without a description. My notes: This is a vivid pink, bright and clear in the glass. The nose is slightly grassy, berry-ish and sweaty with the first sip having similar leanings: grass, sweat then slight berry. The flavourings carry forward in a moderate finish, dry, warm and silky. An economical summer day sipper, lesser so than the J.P. Chenet (#125815 $9.95) but with a stronger bite adequate for light buffet fare, sea food dishes and white fowl, warm or cold sliced on greens. A recipe rosé perhaps from young vines, nothing to avoid but nothing to look forward to. 80
AMAYNA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006, Leyda Valley, Chile, 14.5% XD, #077693 $20.95 (Retasted June 13, 2009)  CS
My notes: Last tasted in January this year with the comment ‘should cellar up to two years’. The soft floral in the nose has lessened leaving a soft grassiness, not objectionable. Has the same mouthfeel with a silky creaminess and some smoke to flavours of melon, lime and green gooseberry. The finish retains much of the fruit adding a noticeable herbaceous edge making this a scrumptious sipper overall. This needs a milder seafood dish to complement its tropical subtleties. Still cellaring well but likely not as long as two years previously suggested. 90
ANAKENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 12.5% D, #122432 $10.95 (Tasted June 19, 2009)  CS
My notes: According to the website “Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are macerated at 10ºC for 12 hours in stainless steel tanks. The must is separated from the skin before the fermentation process takes place… “ The colour is vivid crushed strawberry and aromas, only if you have a good sniffer, include watermelon and berries. Well balanced with a touch of drying tannins and a slight acid, medium-bodied, and showing some berries with a sweet mineral aspect. The finish continues with this mineral note and a filmy lining. A marginal sipper preferably paired with fish entrées, sushi or an Asian buffet. Not for cellaring and not recommended as a rosé for a social get together. 81
CAVE SPRING ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 11.5% D, #295006 $12.95 (Tasted June 15, 2009)  CS
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A General listing described anonymously as “Brilliant rose colour; fragrant raspberry and fresh picked strawberry aromas and flavours with apple notes; dry, light to medium bodied, finishes with crisp dry finish. Serve with cold cuts; fish soup; salad plate; grilled salmon burgers.” My notes: The saignée method allows primarily cabernet skins to provide the brilliant colour of this rosé. I tasted the 2006 vintage (90) along with 16 other rosés in July last year. The colour is a brilliant rose and aromas of a blend of raspberry and cherry, very slight such that a grassiness glimmers through. An entirely different grape mix tho' still from Beamsville Bench (73%) and Niagara River (27%) than the 2006 made up this vintage: 44% Cabernet Franc; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 25% Gamay; 7% Syrah; 4% Riesling. Dry and tangy but showing a touch of natural sweetness giving this some roundness in the first sip and flavours of pomegranate among nearly ripe berries. Have with finger foods or with cold chicken breast on greens. A unique style of drink now for a general crowd. 82
TEMPLE BRUER GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2005, Longhorne Creek, Australia, 13.5% D, #090290 $17.95 (Tasted June 18, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on May 23, 2009 described and rated 88/100 by Harvey Steiman (Oct 15, 2008) as “This is dark, ripe and distinctive for the spicy, fleshy character - probably from the Viognier - around a core of dense currant, blackberry and tar flavours. Grenache(63%), Shiraz(28%) and Viognier(9%). Drink now through 2013.” My notes: This has a black cherry hue, a tad sombre, and aromas of canned byng cherries. A swirl brings a firm film with slow tears. The flavours are quite unique, each grape bringing something to the mix. Long and warm, the finish fills the senses with earthy cherries, silky with a penetrating nip and a touch of natural sweetness but drying to the palate. This likely would satisfy a wide set of drinkers, young/old, new or old world. It held its own with spicy chili con carne and would with most seasoned grilled meats and full flavoured stews. A drink now that could easily cellar a few more years. 88
CHAKANA ‘ANDEAN WINES’ MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD, #003509 $13.95 (Tasted June 22, 2009)  CS
A Vintages release on June 20, 2009 given 4 out of 5 by Rod Phillips on March 26, 2009 describing it as “… full of fruit flavour, but a cut above the boring, fruity dross that fills so many inexpensive bottles. Here you get structure and balance, and sheer, simple pleasure. It's an excellent choice for grilled red meats.” My notes: The 2008 has an unappealing aspect to the nose offsetting a light blackberry scent - to me a bit Brett-ish but not barnyard, more fish market. Airing helps a tad. The colour is a deep ruby, perhaps a tad lighter altho’ with the same rich hue as the previous year‘s. The flavour as well has a distinct chemical taint with a sharp acid seam, as though the fruit hadn’t developed fully on the vine. This seam flows into a long finish leaving a brambly layer on the palate. Not a sipper - better paired with grilled meats if a bottle comes your way. Best to avoid this vintage. 77
CHAKANA MALBEC 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #003509 $13.95 (Retasted June 22, 2009)  CS

My notes: Last tasted in July 2008 and rated 91. The rich deep ruby colour and aromas of black cherries dipped in chocolate are still inviting. Airing isn’t necessary as in the earlier tasting. The nose remains somewhat more delicate. Still ‘midway to soft with a bright tartness and texture of fine tannin enveloping dark fruit’. Bolder than in July, now with a noticeable sharpness and less fruit, not as ‘polite‘ and the finish has a tinge of bramble at the end. Cellaring may turn this around yet but not within year or even two. Either drink now or leave up to four years is my guess. Have with grilled meats. 90
SOGRAPE GAZELA ROSÉ NV, Beiras, Portugal, 10.0% D, #125757 $8.95 (Tasted June 26, 2009)  CS
My notes: Perhaps more pink than salmon, attractive in a tulip glass with an aroma of slightly spiced strawberries. The spritz makes for a refreshing first sip and light flavours of strawberries with a few berries induces the follow-on sips. Then the finish gives a late burst of spritz on the throat with some spice, some tang but mainly fruit. An economical summer sipper for a congenial crowd when a lively rosé is the preferred accompaniment to conversation. Have with bok choy and shrimp dip or a plate of sliced ham and French bread. A drink now. 84
LANCERS ROSÉ NV, Dao, Portugal, 10.0% D, #078931 $7.95 (Tasted June 23, 2009)  CS
A General listing described anonymously as “Bright pink colour; aromas of sweet strawberry, marachino cherry and fresh raspberry with floral notes and hints of tropical fruit; slightly sweet, medium bodied, soft acidity but well balanced, with flavours of light cherry, raspberry and melon. A great accompaniment to Asian inspired dishes and spicy food. Try also with goat cheese salad or a fruit tray with yoghurt dip. Best served well chilled.” My notes: I was curious to try Lancers after many years of neglect. The colour is a salmon pink and midsize bubbles cover the sides of the tulip glass for a short while. Aromas are notable for their absence and initial flavours of a lightly crushed watermelon and berries hit the taste buds. A slight sweetness and minimal tang add to the initial sip. The finish is lightly flavoured remnants - nothing that could be called interesting. This needs a few crushed strawberries or a lime slice squeezed liberally… or, for the price, I’d recommend a shot of vodka in a glass of Sun-Rype Fruit Strawberry Banana or a freshly made sangria. 75
WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Australia, 14.0% D, #251876 $16.45 (Tasted June 26, 2009)  CS
A General listing anonymously described as “Deep red purple colour; dry and medium bodied; mulberry/cassis fruit aromas with pronounced eucalyptus, spice and oak; balanced with soft tannins and a long, fruity finish. Serve with rack of lamb, grilled or roasted red meats, hard cheese.” My notes: The violet tinged deep ruby colour and peppery black currant aroma are somewhat inviting for a first time taste. This has a firm film with slow legs when swirled and a sip shows a silky texture. The flavours have a firm black currant character with a good portion of earth, spice and tang. Not a tooth cleaner althou’ close - I’d call it dense and overly bright. The finish starts with dark fruit and shifts to bramble, warm and dense - more of a dinner wine than a sipper. Have with grilled ribs, seared sirloin or T-bone, full flavoured stews or shank of lamb. If cellaring mellows it it could be a good value. Try two years at a time. 89

Monday, June 01, 2009

June 2009 Niagara Trip: 10 Tasted of 10

The weather was sunny with very cool high winds. Recent rainfall gave a lustrous look to every green thing - perfect for an interesting drive along the quiet, meandering Niagara Wine Route.

I had just downloaded and printed the Shopping List for Vintages June 6th release and noticed several bottles from an artisan winery new to me: Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery. Fifteen acres of forty are the Renaceau vineyards on the gradual slope of Mountainview Road as it climbs the Niagara Escarpment on the Beamsville Bench. Planted with viniferous grapes in 2003 the vines are producing crops for Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Semillon VQA varietal and blended wines. The spring of 2008 marked the first releases of the 2006 vintage wines - around 1700 cases. Natalie Spytkowsky, the winemaker, is from neighbouring Angels Gate Winery while the Roman family tends everything else.
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Chardonnay Reserve 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 94-3  -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $25.20
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Riesling Reserve 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, 94-3  -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $25.20
  • Rosewood Estates Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 -- V, Beamsville, Canada, #112169 $17.95
  • Rosewood Estates ‘Renaceau Vineyard’ Trois Femmes Rosé 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, 86 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $18.20
  • Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 84 -- V, Beamsville, Canada, #112177 $17.95
  • Rosewood Estates Gewurztraminer 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 83 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $18.20

During the same week I received a Newsletter from Calamus Estate Winery, an artisan winery visited for the first time last October. The e.mail announced the release of two whites, a 2008 vintage of our favourite 2007, their Pinot Gris, and their 2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. We quickly planned a trip and weren’t disappointed.

Most of the wines listed below were brought home from the wineries for a more leisurely tasting while two were purchased from Vintages June 6th release. Those tasted will be resequenced by rating and shown in bold. Cheers, Ww
  • Calamus Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $15.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Vinemount Ridge’ Riesling 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 89-1 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $17.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Barrel Aged’ Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 84 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $17.20
  • Calamus Estate Winery ‘Half Penny’ Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 82 -- O, Jordan, Canada, #Winery, $13.20
(r-v - Rating-Value)


ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ TROIS FEMMES ROSÉ 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #Winery $18.20 (Tasted June 6, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Rich in mouth-feel, yet surprisingly dry with balanced acidity. Our 100% saignée Merlot Rosé presents us with strawberry jam and fresh wild raspberries… lip-smacking... Enjoy this … with grilled Cajun shrimp, pork medallions, gourmet pizza and summer salads.” My notes: This has a pleasing-to-the-eye peach tone. The nose is a delicate almost ripe strawberry with a touch of ginger, not distinctive but there. The first sip leaves a roundness on the lips and a light flavour of strawberry tinged with raspberry. Have as a summer sipper for its dry berry medley and moderate finish. Pair with seafood as a dry white alternative. May cellar as long as a year but basically a summer drink now. 86

ROSEWOOD ESTATES GEWURZTRAMINER 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #Winery $18.20 (Tasted June 27, 2009)

My notes: This has a clean light golden colour and an aroma of honey, a tinge of wildflowers and, fortunately faint, a scent of must. The honey goes forward to the first sip giving flavours of peas and green apple a silky texture. On top is a seam of spice and acid. Finishing with mostly spice and delicate peas/apple mix in the background this is an unusual sipper. A mix of grapes from various Benches may have confused my buds. Overall it's not a gewurz I'd have in for friends. 83

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ RIESLING RESERVE 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 12.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted June 17, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Created in a classic off-dry style… cold fermented in 100% stainless steel tanks to maintain its varietal character. The bursting intensity of mineral, lime and citrus notes on the nose lures you to the palate layered with vibrant and refreshing acidity where a touch of citrus fruit zest teases your mouth. Drink now or cellar for the next 5 years.” My notes: Rosewood Estate’s 2006 Riesling (#112698 @ $17.95) was released by Vintages on June 6th whereas this 2007 Reserve Riesling was purchased on our visit to the winery. A very delicate aroma, perhaps of wild flowers, and a very light blond in the glass builds anticipation of the first sip to determine the character of this riesling. Crisp, dry, chalky edged, assertive lime and lemon flavours all following through in a long mineral tinged finish makes this very interesting. Refreshing to the end and suitable for anyone looking for a summer cooler with a polite tang. Have by itself, with fresh oysters or pair with whitefish entrées and quaff with bacon on a bun or lobster pieces cold or hot - a very flexible riesling. Drinking well now but could cellar for several years. 94

ROSEWOOD ESTATES ’RENACEAU VINEYARD’ CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2007 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 14.0% D, #Winery $25.20 (Tasted June 30, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Our 3 barrels were aged sur lie in premium French oak barrels for 10 months. The malolactic fermentation was stopped half-way which allows the wine to maintain the clean citrus characteristics of the Renaceau vineyard. Developing notes of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla framed by just enough acidity makes this wine a perfect pairing to veal, pork tenderloin and pasta dishes with cream sauce. Drink now or cellar for 5 years.” My notes: The ‘Reserve’ on the label makes a difference of $6.75 from #112151 @ $18.45 in Vintages June 6th release. The light blond colour carries just detectable aromas of the French oak treatment. The film is light and tears develop and flow quickly. The first sip grabs the buds and layers them with faint flavours of quince and butterscotch both silky textured. Closer to a Chablis than a Meursault but really reflecting the terroir of the Renaceau vineyard and a ’Rosewood’ style, perfectly blending process with fruit. The finish is long, delicate, full of butter with some citrus leanings. Quite sip-able now and will likely mature nicely over the next several years. Have with shellfish or regular fishes, not too seasoned so as to complement the delicate nature of this chardonnay. 94

ROSEWOOD ESTATES PINOT NOIR 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #112177 $17.95 (Tasted June 9, 2009)

A Vintages release on June 6, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by local reviewer John Szabo M.S. (undated) as “Fruit from the Wismer Vineyard. Clean, fresh, fruity, nice potential. Dry, fullish, lots of baby fat, smooth, silky tannins/texture, great depth. If it continues on this road this will be an exceptional value. Just a light filtration before bottling.” And another local, Gord Stimmell, gives it 90/100 saying “... it has lovely beetroot, strawberry and cherry aromas. And rootsy cherry and earthy wild berry flavours. A solid pinot for less than $20.” My notes: The sticker on the bottle says this is a gold medal winner at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards. The colour is a slate ruby and the thin film leaves light tears on the glass. After airing for twenty minutes the nose is negligible, a soft beetroot, and a sip follows through with this theme: beetroot, wild strawberry and earth, faint and in equal portions. The texture is silky, nicely balanced with fine tannins giving the finish some length. This is likely referred to as ‘Burgundian‘. Cellaring for two years may add more character - don’t think so tho’. Passable with prime rib, hamburgers or meaty pizzas. 84

ROSEWOOD ESTATES SEMILLON/SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.0% D, #112169 $17.95 (Tasted June 11, 2009)

A Vintages release on June 6, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by local reviewer John Szabo M.S. (undated) as “Clear, sharper, more piercing aromatics than the 2006, seems to be a little more green fruit: green apple, seems more sauvignon-dominated (though only 23% overall). Dry, fullish, intense ripe, acidulated tropical fruit emerges on the palate, pineapple, kiwi, grapefruit. Long finish. Great new world.” My notes: A light golden blond colour with soft aromas of saffron and honey. The first sip introduces some sweetness to a dry lining of delicate citrus and quince setting off the flavours. Passionfruit and gooseberry are noted by their absence. The finish is drying with citrus remaining to refresh the palate. Have with light finger foods or as a before and after sipper when the finish can build. Pairing with freshwater fish or grilled scallops on basmati rice should be OK. A drink now. 86

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘VINEMOUNT RIDGE’ RIESLING 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 11.8% D, #Winery, $17.20 (Tasted June 16, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Grown on the escarpment of the Niagara sub-appellation Vinemount Ridge, our 2007 Riesling exhibits classic citrus and fruit flavours. Pair it with steamed mussels, baked ham or pasta with cheese sauce.” My notes: There’s a light mineral aspect to the nose to let you know it’s riesling. The colour is a light golden, crisp and clear. Served well chilled the first sip refreshes as flavours of faint honey, lime and apple blend together, a combination to cleanse the palate. The finish has only a suspicion of sweetness being basically dry with a silky seam of green apple and honey. Have with fresh oysters, mildly spicy mussels or a scallop or shrimp pasta dish. Drinking well now and could cellar for a few years. 89

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY PINOT GRIS 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.2% D, #Winery $15.20 (Tasted June 2, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Pinot Gris has become a signature wine for Calamus. Our 2008 was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. It shows lightly honeyed peach and apricot flavours, with tart acidity and a light minerality on the finish. Try it with grilled jumbo shrimps or smoked salmon.” My notes: The 2008 shows crystal clear tinged a delicate gold in the glass - no peach that I could see. The nose is of fresh apricots when just off chill and the first sip has a natural peach stone flavour with the apricots still showing in a long finish. A moderate acid balances a suspicion of natural sweetness altho’ the finish comes across as a touch of dry clay. This was perfect with fresh fiddleheads and shallots accompanying a grilled chicken breast filled with spinach and feta with sweet potato fries. Cellaring for a few years shouldn’t be a problem. A value PG. 92

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘HALF PENNY’ ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.4% D, #Winery, $13.20 (Tasted June 7, 2009)


Described by the Winery as “Our 2007 rosé is a masterful blend of select wines from a stellar vintage; ruby coloured with notes of cranberry and ripe raspberry. It is crisp and clean with soft tannins and medium acuity. Try it as an aperitif or pair with turkey, ham or fish. Also try with vegetarian dishes, light cheeses or Asian inspired teriyaki or mild curries. The wine is a blend of 25% Pinot Gris, 30% Gewürztraminer, 20% Riesling, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.” My notes: I refer to a blending of whites and adding a red for tinting a `faux rosé`. Not that this should detract from enjoyment of the resulting rosé but to distinguish this method from saignée in which red grape skins remain for a few days for colouring. The shade in this case is a delicate peachy pink and the nose has a slight peach stone base edged with the mineral hint of clay. Crisp and dry, having the nip and flavour of almost ripe berries and a finish that quickly goes from fruit to dry bramble. Fairly shallow as a sipper losing appeal after a glass altho could be a summer sipper for its refreshing dryness. Ignore the shading and pair as an alternative dry white for sea food or white fowl dishes. 82

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY ‘BARREL AGED’ CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Jordan, Canada, 12.6% D, #Winery, $17.20 (Tasted June 30, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “The 2007 Vintage was a spectacular one in Niagara with wines presenting excellent extraction and complexity – a vintage to remember. Our Chardonnay was aged 18 months in French oak barrels and shows notes of spice, caramel and subtle fruit.” My notes: This has a crisp blond colour and aromas of delicate pear blossom and faint vanilla needing time to develop in the bowl - air twenty minutes or serve just a bit off chill. The film is firm with slow legs and the first sip shows equal parts grassy spice, sour apple and butterscotch. Better to have with a cold buffet than sip by itself altho‘ the unique style could be appealing to some. The finish is soft, balanced on the tangy side and fairly long. There is a touch of French oak and lime but the fruit I’d say is too indistinct to maintain a presence. Flavours did not go well with bbq’d pineapple and shrimp skewers and soy’d brown rice - have with freshwater fish and plain rice dishes. Rather than drink now lay down for three years to see where it goes. 84