Monday, January 25th: Worked on an article for the International Wine & Food Society’s magazine on the Niagara region (a prelude to a visit to the region by IW&FS members). For dinner with lamb chops, Konzelmann Cabernet Merlot 2012 (purple-ruby colour; a nose of cedar, redcurrant and plum; savoury, herb-tinged red berry flavour with a dark chocolate note and a floral uplift in mid-palate (88.5)).
Tuesday, January 26th: Down to Vintages for a make-up tasting (no, not tasting make-up but wines I missed from last Friday’s tasting). Before dinner (pasta), tasted two Chiantis:
- Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2012: This is an old school Chianti. Ruby red colour with a nose of cherries and plums; light to medium-bodied with a lean, sour cherry flavour and a frim tannic finish. (87)
- Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2012 (Sangiovese with 5% Merlot): A richer, more concentrated version of the above wine. Ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with a lively spine of acidity; grainy tannins and good length. (89)
Wednesday, January 27th: Worked on the novel after finishing the first draft of the IW&FS article.
Thursday, January 28th: Wrote a piece for Jacob Richler’s restaurant magazine on Mission Hill, then got down to some tasting.
- Konzelmann Riesling Reserve Old Vines 2014 (Niagara Peninsula – $23.15): pale straw colour; grapefruit, white honey with a floral note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, Kabinett style, lovely mouth feel with a minerally, grapefruit flavour. (89)
- Errazuriz Chardonnay Estate Series 2015 (Casablanca Valley, Chile – $13.95): pale straw with a green tint; minerally, green pear and apple nose; medium-bodied, fresh, green pineapple and apple nose, finishing with crisp acidity. Good value. (88.5)
- Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Estate Series 2015 (Aconcagua Coast, Chile – $12.95): pale straw with a lime tint; green pepper, green plum nose; grassy, gooseberry and passionfruit flavours. Crisply dry, medium-bodied, with good length and a tart acidic finish. (88.5)
- Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Aconcagua Valley – $15.95): pale straw colour with a lime tint; grassy, green pepper, green plum nose; medium-bodied, dry, mouth-filling, gooseberry, green fig and passionfruit flavours. Great length. Great value. (90)
- Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $19.95): very pale colour with a lime tint; smoky-minerally grapefruit and green melon nose; medium-bodied, tangy cut grass and green mango flavours. Long whistle-clean finish. (89.5)
- Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $23.95): pale straw with a lime tint; minerally, grapefruit, tangerine skin, orange blossom; medium- to full-bodied, crisply dry, lovely mouth-feel with tart grapefruit and green gooseberry flavours that go on and on. (92)
- Konzelmann Pinot Noir 2012 (Niagara Peninsula – $24.25): deep ruby colour; high-toned raspberry and plum with a touch of oak on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, firmly structured, ripe fruit with supple tannins. (88)
- Running With Bulls Tempranillo 2013 (Wrattonbully, Australia – $17.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, minty black cherry nose; dry, medium-bodied, fruity with lively acidity and a blackcurrant finish. Easy drinking. (88.5)
- Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2013 (Tuscany – $21.95): deep ruby-purple colour; dry, savoury, cherry nose with a cedary note; medium-bodied, dry, lean and sinewy, sour cherry flavour with soft tannins on the finish. (88.5)
- Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Aconcagua Valley – $18.85): deep purple colour; spicy, blackcurrant with a cedary and vanilla note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, racy acidity, inky and taut with a tannic uplift on the finish. (88.5)
- Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Aconcagua Valley – $19.95): deep ruby-purple colour; cedar, blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, juicy, blackcurrant with lively acidity and ripe tannins. (89)
- Applewood Farm Winery Evan’s Blackcurrant Port 2011 (Stoffuville, Ontario $19.95): 18% alcohol; dense purple-black colour; intense blackcurrant nose with evident alcohol; richly extracted blackcurrant with racy acidity. Intense and concentrated with driving acidity. (89)
Friday, January 29th: Attended a Grenaches of the World tasting at the trade office of Spain. This tasting had been conducted in London (January 20) and New York (yesterday) and is a run-up to the 2016 Grenaches du Monde competition in Zaragoza, Spain, beginning on February 4th. It’s open to all Grenache and its synonyms, Garnacha, Garnatxa and Cannonau. Some 600 wines from eight countries are entered in this year’s competition. Our tasting was conducted by a very knowledgeable Spanish sommelier, Fernando Mora.
- Dashe Cellars Grenache “Les Enfants Terribles” 2014 (Dry Creek Valley): purple colour; fresh, black raspberry nose with spicy, white pepper and herbal overtones; medium-bodied, dry, lean for 13.5% alcohol ending on a balsamic note with firm tannins. (88)
- Tres Picos Borsão Garnacha 2014 (Campo de Borga): Dense purple colour; savoury-herbal nose of red berries, black olives, spicy oak with a floral grace note; full-bodied, sweet, juicy black raspberry flavour; mouth-filling, well balanced carrying its 14.5% alcohol very well. (90.5)
- Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011 “La Crau” (60% Grenache): mature ruby colour; dry, savoury nose of dried plums, licorice and pencil lead; full-bodied, dry, elegant and rich. Beautifully balanced with a bitter chocolate finish. (92)
- Bodegas Aragonesas Fagus de Coto de Hayas 2013: dense purple-black colour; spicy, sandalwood, oak-driven nose; full-bodied, creamy texture with black fruit flavours, somewhat jammy finishing on soft, ripe tannins. (89.5)
- Henschke Johann’s Garden 2013 (60% Grenache with Shiraz and Mourvèdre): Dense purple colour; smoky-herbal, blueberry nose; full-bodied, dry, blueberry flavour; firmly structured, spicy with lively acidity. (90)
- Bodegas Alto Moncayo (Campo de Borga): dense purple-black colour; spicy, strawberry and raspberry nose carried on oak notes; full-bodied, vanilla oak and well extracted red and black fruit flavours; fleshy and fruit-driven but finishes firm. 16% alcohol. (92)
- Aletta Garnacha 2013 (Campo de Borga): Deep purple colour; strawberry and cherry bouquet with a herbal note; dry, medium-bodied, fruity blueberry flavour. Commercial style. (88)
- Pagos del Moncayo PdM Garnacha 2013 (Campo de Borga): dense purple-black colour; smoky, herbal, pencil lead nose with spicy oak; elegant black fruits and black olive nose; full-bodied and juicy but finishes dry and firm. (90)
- Bodegas Ruberte Tresor Garnacha 2013 (Campo de Borga): dense purple-black colour; cedary, black cherry nose; full-bodied, elegant, rich blueberry flavour; beautifully balanced and seamless. (93)
- Roman Cepas Viejas 2011 (Campo de Borga): dense purple-black colour; smoky-toasty oak and blackberry nose, “Bourbon-like” (was the sommelier’s apt descriptor) with a savoury note. Full-bodied, dry and savoury and firmly structured – but I detected a faint off-note (old barrel? Touch of TCA?). There’s a terrific wine lurking in there. I’d like to taste another bottle. It would probably be the wine of the tasting. (89.5)