A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 537: St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, March 16th: Worked on the Oz Clarke Pocket Wine Guide, updating the Canadian entries.

Tuesday, March 17th: Wore my green sweater today, the only thing I have green in my wardrobe. Gave Pinot a green bowtie from a piece of exercise plastic and took a photo of her for Facebook sniffing a bottle of Redbreast Irish Whiskey. (This is my favourite which I discovered at the Irish Whiskey Museum a dozen or so years ago. I looked all over Ireland to buy a bottle and found one in an off-licence in Galway. It cost me $50. When I got back to Toronto I found the LCBO had it on the shelf for $39!) Spent most of the day inputting wine reviews for the March 21st Vintages’ release. At noon, down to Mercatto on Bay Street to meet Stephen Pauwels and Greg Owen to discuss the possibility of an October wine tour to Europe.

Wednesday, March 18th: Tasted a raft of Rockway Vineyards wines from Niagara’s Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation:

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-110 Chardonnay Wild-Ferment 2013: straw coloured with a green tint; spicy apple nose with citrus notes; medium to full-bodied with sweet pear, pineapple and lemon flavours rounded with oak. Beautifully balanced with good length and well integrated oak. (91)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block Blend Riesling 2013: very pale colour; minerally, grapefruit nose; dry, medium-bodied, grapefruit and lime flavours with vibrant acidity. (88)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling 2013: almost water white; minerally, honeyed grapefruit; off-dry, elegant, lime and honey flavours; great tension between sweetness and acidity; lingering finish. (89)

Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Series Riesling 2013: very pale colour, almost water white; delicate nose of lime, honey, crushed stones with a floral top note; dances on the palate with lively acidity and flavours of grapefruit, lime and lemon. (90)  

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Gewurztraminer 2013: very pale straw colour; light varietal character on the nose – floral, melon; off-dry, good mouth-feel, tangerine and honey flavours with balancing acidity. (87)

Rockway Vineyards Late Harvest Vidal 2013: pale straw colour; a nose of honey and peach with a thread of minerality; medium-bodied, semi-sweet with balancing acidity and a touch of bitterness on the finish which works well to control the sweetness. (90)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc 2012: deep plum colour; cedar, spicy oak, red berries with a light floral top note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, cranberry-cherry flavour carried on lively acidity finishing on grainy but supple tannins. (87+)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block Blend Merlot 2012: deep ruby colour; cedar, blueberry nose with oak spice; dry, medium-bodied, lean, blueberry and plum flavours with fresh acidity. (87)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-120 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: deep ruby colour; cedar, redcurrant and black cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, good varietal character, redcurrant, red plum flavour with ripe tannins. (88)

Rockway Vineyards Reserve Meritage 2012: deep ruby colour; cedar, red and blackcurrants with a sandalwood note on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, rich on the palate with lively currant flavours wrapped in supple tannins. (89)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah 2012: deep ruby colour; savoury-herbal nose of blackberries and white pepper; medium-bodied, dry, lean, Northern Rhône style, moderate length with a tannic lift on the finish. (88)

Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Wild Ferment Red 2012: (25% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) deep ruby colour; cedar, tobacco leaf, red berry fruit and vanilla oak spice on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, sweet and savoury flavours of red berries and toasted herbs; firmly structured with lively acidity. (89)

Thursday, March 19th: Wrote my column for Lexpert on the difference between a wine snob and a wine fascist. Then followed up wine agents for wine donations for Grapes for Humanity’s May 7th “Italy Uncorked” fund-raiser at St. James Cathedral’s event space. Then got down to tasting a case of Pelee Island wines.

Pelee Island Secco 2013 (Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois): ($15.75) gently sparkling, pale lemon in colour; earthy, peach pit nose; dry, peach and pear flavours, soft on the palate. Easy drinking (86)

Pelee Island Chardonnay (Non Oak): ($10.75) light straw colour; minerally, apple nose; dry, medium-bodied, apple flavour with citrus acidity. (85)

Pelee Island Lighthouse Sauvignon Blanc 2013: ($12.75) pale straw colour; lemon grass, grapefruit skin nose; dry, medium-bodied, green apple and green melon flavours. (86)

Pelee Island Gewurztraminer Riesling 2013: ($12.75) pale straw; aromatic, spicy, apple and grapefruit nose; dry, medium-bodied, not a lot of Gewurz character coming through with a browning apple finish. (85)

Pelee Island Traminer Muscat 2013: ($13.75) pale straw colour; spicy, orange blossom and cardamom nose; dry, fresh, orange and pink grapefruit flavours; clean and lingering. (88)

Pelee Island Cabernet Franc Rosé 2013: very pale, flesh pink in colour; redcurrant and citrus nose with a thread of minerality; well-balanced fruit and acidity; flesh on the palate with a clean, dry finish. (87)

Pelee Island Night Glider Gamay Zweigelt 2013: ($11.75) ruby colour; cherry, tomato paste and tobacco leaf nose; dry, fruity and mouth-filling with lively acidity. Easy drinking. (86)

Pelee Island Pinot Noir 2012: ($12.75) ruby colour; earthy, tobacco leaf and strawberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, candied raspberry flavour with enough tannin to give structure. (86)

Pelee Island Pinot Noir Reserve 2013: ($15.75) ruby with a tawny rim; raspberry and leather nose with light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, firm structure with good acidity, cherry and raspberry flavours. (87)

Pelee Island Baco Noir Reserve 2013: ($14.95) deep plum colour; smoky, meaty, blackberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, minty-spicy black fruits with lively acidity. Good length. (87)

Pelee Island Cabernet Franc 2013: ($11.75) light ruby colour; redcurrant, cedar with a light floral note; light-bodied, dry, round on the palate with well-defined currant flavours and ripe tannins. Good value. (87+)

Pelee Island Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: ($14.75) ruby colour; cedar, smoky, plum and currant bouquet; dry, medium-bodied, lean, sour cherry flavour with fresh acidity. (86+)

Friday, March 20th: Another Vintages release tasting today.  In the evening with dinner tasted the following wines:

Flat Rock Riesling 2014: (Ontario – $16.95) pale straw with a lime tint; honey and grapefruit on the nose; off-dry, sweet grapefruit and lime flavours; light on the palate. Easy drinking. (88+)

Charles & Charles Chardonnay 2013: ($15.95 – Washington) pale straw colour with a nose of vanilla oak and spicy apple; full-bodied, richly extracted flavours of pineapple and melon with balancing acidity and a minty finish. Good value. (89)

Ruffino Modus 2012: (50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot; Tuscany, $29.95) dense purple-ruby; earthy cherry, tobacco and vanilla oak on the nose;  sweet black cherry and blackcurrant flavours; elegant, finishing dry with supple tannins and a cinnamon note. (90)

Ravenswood Beseiged 2013: (Petite Sirah, Carignane, Zinfandel, Syrah, Barbera, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvèdre – Sonoma County, $24.95) dense purple-ruby colour; spicy-savoury bouquet of blackberries and dark chocolate; rich and full on the palate with a cinnamon and nutmeg flourish on the end taste. A big brooding wine that went well with lamb merguez sausages and couscous. (89+)

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