Friday, August 29, 2014

Report from ... Scenes from the i4C Chardonnay World Tour & Dinner - July 19, 2014

"Rain Rain go away, I want to drink some Chardonnay"

I read that on a twitter post on the day of the Chardonnay World Tour ... Last year's event was plagued with a heavy rain storm the night before, which caused havoc with the grounds and pools of water like motes around the event tents, areas were cordoned off to prevent people from going for a "swim" ... This year, it just rained all day.  From morning to late afternoon the rains fell, causing organizers to send out a tweet of their own telling people not to show up till 6:00pm in the hopes the rains would subside. 

I arrived on the scene about 6:30, not able to wait out the wet weather any longer ... It spit for a bit between my arrival and about 7:15 ... And then magically the rains stopped (no sunshine mind you) long enough for some friendly milling about, oysters and sparkling wines, dinner and the after glow ... Once everyone left who cares what the skies did (well the clean up crew did I guess).

This year's i4C Chardonnay World Tour elicited some interesting, if not eerie photo evidence ... Let's take a look:

The ghost town that was suppose to be the Chardonnay World Tour -
flooded out due to the rain
Flags unfurled and flying at the ready

If you look closely you can see the pool-sized "puddles"
In the parking lot of the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre ...
the party found a new home, "across the street"

As bubbly took the place of the still bottles were popped and poured,
attendees like Ed, of Lailey Vineyard, sticks his tongue out at the rain.
People milling about, ducking in and out of tents
and from under 'brellies
Bubbly being poured puts smiles on faces:
no matter what the weather
While the shuckers from the Tide & Vine Oyster Company
shucked a variety of oysters from both east and west coasts
Their trusty VW van stands guards
Rain brought the hunger out in everyone - they could barely keep up
Chardonnays were lined up on a picnic bench and in buckets ...
help yourself?
while the volunteers unloaded the truck filled with ice and wine

Every winery had their own dedicated bucket of wine
a look from the other side of the table
Inside the dinner tent people looked for rows and sections to save
Here's a look at the place setting for the "Al Fresco Feast"
The Cheese Ladies cutting the ... this one's just too easy
While the guy from Fat Chance hand sliced cold smoked salmon
Another look at the Bubbly Tent ... they had to be a dozen deep here.
And the oysters just kept on coming -
and the people kept on eating.
One of the best bubblies was this Cave Spring Dolomite Brut ...
while not vintage dated, winemaker Angelo Pavan says it is
most likely made from 2011 fruit
Dinner is served, Family Style, first out of the kitchen:
"Chardonnay Smoked Rainbow Trout from Kolapore Springs"
presented by Chef Ryan Crawford of Gastrohomestead
Next up, a heaping plate of
"Confit Duck & Waterford County Bean Cassoulet"
by Chef Jason Parsons of Peller Estate Winery Restaurant
Final course is:
"Honey and Thyme Roasted Blue Goose Organic Chicken with Chardonnay-Lemon
Dressed Fresh Greens and Spiced Niagara Yellow Plum Jam"
cooked up by Chef Craig Youdale of the Canadian Food & Wine Institute
at Niagara College
Good Wines of the Evening ...

While we did not get to try all the wines (truth is we tried maybe a dozen), turns out the fact is because I (and some colleagues) sat at primarily a media table we had very few wines to try ... turns out you had to sit with a winemaker / representative and they would provide wine for you.  But here are the best of the wines I did get to try.

Angels Gate 2011 Mountainview Chardonnay (Ontario)
A pair from Santa Rita (Chile)
An Olivier Ducelle-Pierre Jean Villa 2012 Savigny-les-Beaune (France)
And a Josef Chromy 2013 Chardonnay (Tasmania)
Pictures From After the Dinner ...

After dinner people had rain gear at the ready to brave
the elements outside the tent flaps

Clean up began exactly at 11pm

It's gonna be a long night for these guys

A long night indeed, to bring this place back to normalcy
Despite the rain, which held off for most of the evening, it was an evening of delightful Chardonnays, great camaraderie and delicious food.  See you for i4C 2015 ... and let's all hope the rain holds off. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Report from ... Montefalco in TO - June 4, 2014

Six producers from the Montefalco region came to town to show off their wares ahead of my trip to the region later in the month (see link at bottom to see the trip).

Montefalco comes to T.O. with their Sagrantino and Rosso wines,
plus a few surprises.

The Wines and Wineries ...

Fattoria Col Santo 2010 Rosso (left)
pretty raspberry and cherry nose with a palate of cocoa-raspberry and big tannins (*** 1/2+)
Fattoria Col Santo 2008 Sagrantino (right)
2 years in barrrique / 1 year in bottle
round, soft, juicy with lots of spiced cherry, cocoa and plenty of acidity (****)
Antonelli 2010 Rosso (left)
70% Sangiovese / 15% each Sagrantino and Merlot
nose of blackberry and cherry with hints of blueberry,
palate is soft, round and juicy with spiced cherry (****)
Antonelli 2007 Sagrantino (right)
aromas of cassis, blackberry and nice spice
palate is robust with tannins, well spiced along with
deep black fruit and blueberry skin
Scacciadiavoli, a winery run by the Pambuffetti family
established in 1884
Top wine here was the Scaccidiavoli 2007 Sagrantino:
big 15.5% alcohol with plum, black and blue berries on the nose
backed by chocolate-cherry; palate is spiced-plum, Christmas cake, cherry,
chalky-mineral and big tannins (****+)
The 2009 Rosso has plenty of cherry on the nose;
palate is front loaded with cherry backed by spice and great acidity (*** 1/2)
These two Arnaldo-Caprai wines are polar opposites:
the 2010 Rosso (left) drinks very well with plenty of juicy fruit, both of the red and black variety -
the 2008 "Collepiano" (right) is very spicy, very acidic, very tannic, a hard one to wrap your mouth around.
Perticaia was established in 2003 and they export 25% of their production
One of the few (or only) Rosso Reserva's in the room,
the 2009 is a vineyard selection made up of 70% Sangiovese,
15% Sagrantino and 15% Colorino.  Tobacco aromas surrounded by
cherry fruit; palate is really yummy and approachable:  plum,
black cherry with great mouthfeel. (****+)
The 2009 Sagrantino is a mix of silky and spicy with plum,
cherry, big acidity and well-integrated tannins (****+)
Colle Ciocco makes a 2013 Clarignano, the only white in the room -
nice tropical fruit notes with a little weight from the vanilla and spice on the finish (*** 1/2+)
Their other surprise was a 2008 Sagrantino Passito, a sweet dessert wine
rich with sweet cherry, plum and vanilla (****)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Report from ... Annual California Wine Fair Toronto - April 7, 2014

The annual California Wine Fair, held at the Royal York in Toronto, featured some 113 wineries and considering that each winery brings 4-5 wines with them you get a lot of California fermented grape juice in one room.  There is no way to taste them all so you pick and chose based on your interests or any assignment you have coming up.

Let's take a look at what caught my palate's attention this year, and as always there are plenty of Zinfandels that make my list, as Zin continues to be of my favourite Cali-varietals so I pay careful attention to those.

The California Wine Fair - a room loaded with people and wines

The Wines That Impressed ...
Chandon Brut Classic and Rose (Sparkling)
fresh, lively and fruity, while the Rose adds elements of raspberry (**** each)
Peju 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
melon and orange pith with some lemon zest on the finish (****)

Schug 2011 Pinot Noir - Carneros
earthy, raspberry and strawberry with nice acidity
and cranberry mixed in (*** 1/2+)
Marimar Estate 2010 Pinot Noir - Dona Margarita Vineyard
strawberry and red licorice with smoke and a touch of spice; there's also
anise and red berries on the tongue.  Great complexity with a long finish.
Hahn Estate 2011 Pinot Noir - Santa Lucia Highlands
black cherry and spiced plum on the nose which follows on the palate
with some sweet red fruit notes on the well-spiced finish (****)
Fog Crest Vineyard 2011 Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley
rich in earthiness and sour cherry aromas while the palate adds spiced-plum
and cherry along with Christmas cake and wonderful acidty (****)
Renwood 2011 Premier Old Vine Zinfandel - Amador County
palate starts off sweet but with nice spice and complexity
to pull it all off (****)
Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel Limited Production - Lodi
licorice, smoked meat, cocoa and spice galore; serious and beautifully crafted

Stonestreet 2010 Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
gritty tannins hide a lot of cark brooding fruit (****)
Smith & Hook 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
meaty with blackberry and vanilla smoke (****)

Ca'Momi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley
smoke and snise with stewed blackberry and spice,
there's also an appealing meaty note (****+)
Chateau St. Jean 2009 Cinq Cepages
lovely richness of fruit along with cassis and cocoa
there's also some white smoke and good length to the finish
Clos du Bois 2010 Marlstone - Alexander Valley
something about the spiced-cocoa finish that makes this an elegant sip from start to finish:
great dark fruit middle palate and silky tannins on the finish (****+)
Hahn 2012 GSM
this one is pure raspberry on both the nose and taste
and a great buy at under $20 (****)
Justin 2011 Justification
tobacco and cherry with blackberry and raspberry -
sure there's a lot of fruit here, yet there is also
good balance and structure (****)
Seghesio 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel
vines are an average of 80 years old (some as old as 120)
fruit driven yet with structure cocoa, plum and black cherry
Seghesio 2012 Sonoma Zinfandel
30 year old vines that have flavours of plum, vanilla and cherry
plus a nice spice that inhabits the finish (****)
Ridge 2012 Three Valleys - Sonoma County
This Zin blend has pretty raspberry and cherry
with a delicious silky finish (****+)
Ravenswood 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel - Sonoma County
silky red fruit: chewy with strawberry and hints of plum and vanilla
C.G. di Arie Vineyard 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel - Shenandoah Valley
140 year old vines which shows lots of plum, vanilla, cherry, herbal, cola,
black cherry with a linger of mineral and spice (****+)
Birichino 2012 Besson Vineyard Old Vines Grenache
Grenache planted in 1910 with light aromas, full of floral notes;
while the palate is silky with red fruit and touches of pepper on the finish
Ca'Momi 2011 Rosso di Napa
a blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot and Petite Sirah:
good red fruit with an interesting spiced finish (*** 1/2+)

Peachy Canyon 2011 Zinfandel, Westside
vanilla, cherry and plum; quite silky on the palate
Ca'Momi 2012 Chardonnay - Napa Valley
only 4 months in a mix of French and American oak;
lovely fruit with pineapple and peach being the most dominant
Huneeus Wines 2012 Saldo Zinfandel
lush plum and black cherry with smoky vanilla (****)