Saturday, January 31, 2009

Report from ... Calamus Futures Tasting at Cafe Taste - January 27, 2009

A cold Tuesday night sees me arriving late (I did not know it was a formal sit down event) at Cafe Taste for the Calamus Futures Tasting. First, a little note about the venue: located at 1330 Queen Street West in Toronto, this little hole-in-the-wall bills itself as a European-style wine, cheese and coffee bar that specializes in the local: serving 80% VQA wines (40 by the glass - which includes dessert wines), and over 30 cheeses from both Ontario and Quebec. They also bake their own bread and biscotti … very impressive stuff. While there I tried cheeses, bread and a variety of sliced meats, but failed to get even a nibble off the end of a biscotti - dang. I’ve gotten sidetracked here it’s time to move on to the main event, the new soon-to-be offerings from Calamus.

For those who've never been, Calamus is located near Balls Falls in the Twenty Valley region of Niagara. They used to boast the area's smallest tasting room (maybe in all of Ontario), but they have greatly expanded the room and added an upper level and at deck for use during nice weather (yes we do get some here) … and one should not forget the telescope dome complete with operating telescope.

Winemaker Arthur Harder led a room of about 30+ people through a tasting of six wines (two whites, four reds) from the outstanding 2007 vintage; my top three were as follows:

3) 2007 Vinemount Ridge Riesling, $16.95 - available at the LCBO only Fall 2009 … the second of Calamus’ ‘07 Rieslings, a nose that has whiffs of green apple and citrus; plenty of mineral on the palate with the green apple and citrus carrying over from the nose onto the palate. Good crisp acidity aids in leaving you with a refreshed palate ready for the next sip.

2) 2007 Cabernet Franc, ~$18.00 – release date pending … 300 cases were made of this textbook Franc, minus the telltale green pepper; which goes to show what a hot vintage takes away ... but what it leaves behind more than makes up for it. The nose has smoky blackberry, cassis, chocolate, tobacco and toasted spices. The palate follows in the same vein adding a smoky-toasty-cherry-tobacco and mocha/coffee flavour on the finish. When all is said and done the wine will have spent sixteen to eighteen months in a combination of French and American oak. (Currently still in barrel)

1) 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, ~$23.00 – release pending ... the same specifications can be said for the soon-to-be outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon, and it's well worth a few extra dollars for this red (over the Cab Franc). There is great depth, weight and complexity on both the nose and in the mouth. The nose is going to develop more complex aromas over time - currently you'll get smoky-spicy-bittersweet chocolate tones that'll accost the nose. The palate is wonderful and brings much to the table: black cherry, cassis, vanilla, herbs, spice, smoky notes and silky tannins that don't overpower the tongue ... the finish is long with lots of dark fruit. Only 300 cases were made and if there's any justice in the stars it shan’t last long on the shelf … even at $23.00.

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