Sunday, September 28, 2014

Report from ... Marques de Casa Concha with Marcelo Papas - May 28, 2014

I have met Marcelo Papas on a number of occasions when he swings through Toronto ... his wines are always worth trying:  the whites yes, but especially the reds - which the Marques line excels at ... their age-ability at the price point they offer these wines at is extraordinary and past tastings have proven this time and time again.

Today we taste through 8 wines - most are current, but there are one or two surprises along the way ...

The multi-award winning winemaker of Concha y Toro, Marcelo Papas,
who took over the Marques line in 1999 - and has never looked back.
As Marcelo talks, a bottle of 2012 Chardonnay was decanted ...
we try both the bottles and decanted version.
2012 Chardonnay ($19.95)
Grapes are grown in the Limari Valley (in red clay loam and limestone soils), preferrably
for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and aged in classic Burgundian barrels
Bottle: closed but with potential - Decanted:  opens up ot be quite enjoyable

Final Analysis: aromas of butter and baked apple; palate is creamy yet with a nice balancing
acidity ... peach compote, hints of vanilla, and an interesting spiciness - round and pleasant
with a long finish. (****)
2013 Pinot Noir ($19.95)
Another Limari Valley grown wine

Final Analysis: black cherry and black raspberry fills the nose; palate is fruit forward with
nice spice along with violets, cassis and sweet cranberry tannins ... well balanced finish. (*** 1/2+)
2011 Merlot ($19.95)
from the Peumo Vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley
wine has between 7-12% Cabernet Sauvignon added every year

Final Analysis: this is what Chilean Merlot is all about ... minted blackberry aromas with
a juicy palate loaded with blackberry, raspberry, mocha and spice ... finish has silky tannins
with blueberry skin notes and a lovely linger. (****+)
Carmenere 2012 and 2008
Another grape grown at the Peumo Vineyard which has perfect soils for both Merlot and Carmenere ...
this wine always contains 15% Cabernet Sauvignon - the 2008 and 2012 vintages were similar
according to Marcelo - so we tasted them side by side.
2012 Carmenere ($19.95)
quite a spicy wine with blueberry and raspberry notes; juicy, rich and full with big tannins

2008 Carmenere (N/A)
soft and supple with a juiciness that gives layers of flavour to the palate
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.95)
Fruit taken from the Puento Alto Vineyard in the Maipo Valley

Final Analysis: this is a real beauty from nose to back of the tongue ... Aromas are alluringly
full with raspberry, cherry, cassis and so much more; juicy palate shows off blackberry, raspberry
chocolate, and spiced cherry - this one keeps making you wanna go back for more. (**** 1/2)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Report from ... Alto Vino Portfolio Tasting - March 5, 2014

A tasting put on by wine agent Alto Vino made up primarily of Australian wine, (with some New Zealand) and a Champagne house (a very good Champagne house) thrown in for good measure.  The tasting took place at the new Iron Gate Wine Management event centre, let's take a look at both the wines and the venue ...

The outside of the new Iron Gate Private Wine Management office and event space
The room to the right of the door is a small anteroom, where Alto Vino has set up a nice nibblies table
Through the curtain to the main room
The main room is poshly decorated and makes for a relaxing place to taste
A look from the other side of the room
The Champagne bar pouring wines by Dumangin - and manned by Gilles Dumangin
(more on his wines in a moment)
The Wines ... 
starting with the Champagne:

Dumangin Le Rose 1er Cru ($57.60)
50% of the production of this house is Rose - 47% Chardonnay / 37% Pinot Noir / 16% Pinot Meunier
4 years on lees, "this is my signature wine" - Gilles Dumangin ... raspberry, lemon, nice acidity,
easy drinking, shows great finesse with a raspberry finish.  (**** 1/2)
Dumangin 2004 Le Vintage ($79.90)
54% Chardonnay / 46% Pinot Noir, 9 years in bottle; shows the complexity of an older vintage
great biscuity/brioche notes.  Gilles calls this a "Great year" (****+)
Dumangin L'Extra Brut 1er Cru ($61.45)
"I created this wine for me because of Thai food and oysters, foods I like to eat" - Gilles
5 years in bottle ... big acidity, big minerality, long finish (****)
Dumangin Le Cuvee 17 ($48.90)
One-third of each grape:  Pinot Meunier / Chardonnay / Pinot Noir
earthy yet fresh and fruity with a nice mineral note. (****)

GillesDumangin - with his "Signature Wine"
The Wines ...
Australia and New Zealand:

Fromm 2010 La Strada Pinot Noir ($49.70) - New Zealand
Great red berries and fruit, very apporachable even with those earthy tannins;
this one is quite easy and gentle to drink (****+)
Dry River 2009 Pinot Noir ($120.75) - New Zealand
Raspberry and violets with a lovely chalky acidity (****)
By Farr 2011 Sangreal Pinot Noir ($83.60) - Australia
Very Pinot-esque with an earthy cranberry and good acidity (****)
JJ Hahn 2010 Reginald Shiraz / Cabernet ($21.95) - Australia
Chocolate, strawberry, white pepper; juicy but with restraint ...
Good fruit, well-balanced: this wine was the best value at the show (****+)
Maxwell 2010 Lime Cave Cabernet ($53.50) - Australia
Great mouthfeel with cocoa, earhty and raspberry notes;
great balance of acidity and tannins. (****+)

Jasper Hill 2009 La Pleiade Shiraz ($93.30) - Australia
Nice spicy cherry which holds this wine together with balance and acidity (****)
Kalleske 2012 Pirathon Shiraz ($29.95) - Australia
A beauty of a cherry nose leads to a powerful cherry palate seasoned with white pepper;
It has great balance of tannins and acidity - Another good value wine for under $30 - this one's alluring (****+)

Kalleske 2009 Greenock Shiraz ($54.40) - Australia
Raspberry jam on both the nose and palate; rich and delicious (****+)
Kay Bros. 2008 Block 6 Shiraz ($94.20) - Australia
Chocolate, raspberry and vanilla dominated - this one's big, rich and full (****+)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Report from ... New Zealand Wine Fair - May 8, 2014

New Zealand's wine fair comes in two parts:  the "seminar" and the general tasting.

Seminar Wines ...
This year's seminar was all about Pinot Noir - from all over New Zealand.  Pinot is New Zealand's second most planted variety, but a distant second to Sauvignon Blanc.  With the most Pinot planted in Marlborough followed by Central Otago and Wairarapa.  During the seminar we taste wines from all three regions. plus a few others - let's take a look:

Waimea Estate 2012 Pinot Noir (Nelson)
nose of ripe cherry and plum followed by earthy, sour cranberry and spice (*** 1/2+)
Mount Riley 2012 Pinot Noir (Marlborough - Wairau Valley)
plenty of raspberry, cherry and strawberry with elegant oak and spice on the finish  (****)
Auntsfield 2012 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (Marlborough - Southern Valleys)
ripe cherry, cocoa, spice and vanilla; but the cherry is the star here (****+)

Pegasus Bay 2011 Pinot Noir (Waipara Valley)
ripe cherry, cocoa, spice and vanilla; but the cherry is the star here (*** 1/2+)
Greystone 2011 Pinot Noir (Waipara Valley)
the chill on this wine really brings out that superb fruit backed by cherry and cranberry (*** 1/2+)
Ostler 2011 Caroline's Pinot Noir (Waitaki Valley)
very Pinot-esque from the earthy to the spicy with cranberry, strawberry and good acidity -
balanced and well-integrated ... best wine of the seminar and quite possibly the day (**** 1/2)
Amisfield 2011 Pinot Noir (Central Otago - Lowburn)
blueberry, blackberry and black cherry highlight the dark fruit while there is also a hint of
mocha; good tannins, acidity and a nice balance, but there is a little leafy note (*** 1/2+)

General Tasting Wines ...

I try to stay away from the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir - but that's really difficult when it comes to New Zealand wine - so I try Sparkling, Pinot Gris and others ... but when it comes to a New Zealand wine fair it's tough to stay away from those Noirs and Blancs ...

Akarua NV Brut Sparkling (Central Otago)
70/30 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir with 18 months on lees
this is quite a bitey sparkling, refreshing with fresh bread and green apple (****)
Akarua 2012 Rua Pinot Noir (Central Otago)
7 months of aging in 1-2 year old barrels
approachably dark fruited, smoky with good acidity, spice, black licorice, cherry
and a peppery finish (****+)
Astrolabe 2013 Province Pinot Gris (Marlborough)
starts off like a Sauvignon Blanc but ends with sweet white fruit with apple and pear (*** 1/2+)
Babich 2012 Winemakers' Reserve Pinot Noir (Marlborough)
strawberry, raspberry with a touch of plum and spice - there's also nice acidity for balance -
this wine has real drinkability  (****+)
Elephant Hill 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Hawke's Bay)
with 5% oak has given this wine a hint of some creaminess but also a gentle grass and citrus
with a balance of fruit and acidity - not bracing but delicious (****+)
Eradus 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough - Awatere Valley)
good minerality and acidity; rich in grapefruit with a grassy backing (****)
Hunter's 2012 Chardonnay (Marlborough)
rich and buttery with oaky notes, apple, and grilled pineapple; pleasantly toasty (****)
Lawson's Dry Hills 2013 Pinot Gris (Marlborough)
23% barrel aged 3 months and wild fermented
orange zest and spice with hints of baked apple; weighty and elegant (****+)
Marisco 2013 The King's Thorn Pinot Gris (Marlborough)
lovely aromatics with a touch of tropical spice on the palate (*** 1/2+)
Marisco 2012 The King's Wrath Pinot Noir (Marlborough)
certainly shows some wrath but also some delicacy with acidity and sour red fruit (****)

Marisco Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir (Marlborough)
gentle with sweet fruit, balanced acidity and spice - friendly on the palate (****)
Middle Earth 2012 Pinot Noir (Nelson)
savoury strawberry with a balance of cherry and smoke (*** 1/2+)
Middle Earth 2013 Pinot Gris (Nelson)
very nice mouthfeel with honey, peach pit and apple core (*** 1/2+)
Oyster Bay NV Sparkling Cuvee Brut (Hawke's Bay)
nice refreshing bubble with bread crust and lime zest (****)
Ten Sisters 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough)
orange, lime zest, floral and grassy with good acidic balance; very drinkable (****)
te Pa 2013 Pinot Gris (Marlborough)
nice pineapple, peach and lemon pith (*** 1/2+)
te Pa 2011 Pinot Noir (Marlborough)
delicate cherry and raspberry (*** 1/2+)