Sunday, November 8, 2015

Report from ... Wrapped Up in the Valley - November 7, 2015

Wrapped up in the Valley is the 20 Valley's pre-holiday event that gets you into the mood for the festive season to come.

23 wineries match wine and food - along with take away recipe cards, so that you can attempt to recreate these delicious delicacies at home.

There is a way to do all 23 wineries, but you'd be run raged and will remember nothing of the wines and foods you've tasted ... trust me I have done it.  

We decided on seven wineries to visit, that we thought the food really tickled our collective fancy - you know the wine is going to be good so you have to go with what sounds good to your belly ... and so here were our thoughts on the places we visited:

First Stop: The Good Earth
where the above was on the menu
and it looked like this ... and tasted delicious;
a perfect place to start a brisk, yet beautiful day (11 degrees)
not a cloud in the sky - till later anyway (RANK 4)
Second Stop: Mike Weir Winery
a 2010 Riesling was paired up with
Phyllo Pastry with Pear, Caramelised & Blue Cheese
- and the view was amazing - (RANK 5)
Third Stop: Tawse Winery
will their "Perfect Meatball" paired with
2012 Cabernet-Merlot (best wine of the day)
The meatball was sadly served cold but it was tasty -
especially if you could use you imagination and a think it hot
(RANK 2)
There's a certain beauty about seeing grapes hanging in the
late fall and I believe it is captured here (at Kacaba)
Fourth Stop: Kacaba Vineyards
my second favourite wine of the day: 2012 Cabernet-Syrah was paired with
Tenderloin with Mini Yorki Pudding and Horseradish Jus by Chef James Cuttriss
- a true meat eaters delight (RANK 3 - tied)
Fifth Stop: Harbour Estates
this often overlooked winery always has something homey (meaning homemade)
and this "Gourmet Chicken Cordon Bleu Paste" paired with a 2014 Riesling
was a real winner - and something you could easily whip up at home (RANK 1)
Always a pleasure to visit Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
and be greeted by Brix ...
Sixth Stop: Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
Sue's mom's grilled cheese is always an annual treat,
this year it was topped with a "festive compote" (RANK 3 - tied)
 ... And Brix is always sad to see you go -
I think he deserves a grilled cheese

Last Stop: Creekside Estate
where Nathan Young has created a delicious Pastrami ...
The "Sammie" had a tasty middle, it just needed more middle;
in the words of Clara Peller "Where's the Beef" (RANK 6)
Going? Take a look at the list of winery delights and pick our your potential favourite pairings.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Report from: Salud Spain - October 1, 2015

Lookie here, the LCBO put on a gorgeous tasting at the Leon's ROundhouse in downtown Toronto - and when I say "gorgeous" I mean the wines ... Spanish wines have long been a weakness of mine and when confronted with so many it's hard to pick just one, so below I have 29 good to great Spanish selections (just a warning though, most of the wines are red):

Descendientes de J. Palacios 2012 Villa de Corullon
($59.00 - #154435)
Made from the 60-90 year old Mencia grapes grown at 600-900 meters above sea level;
this is a 8 hectare plot, single vineyard wine

mineral / stony with great acidity full of black fruit and chocolate
Descendientes de J. Palacios 2013 Petalos
($25.00 - #675207)
Made from the 30-35 year old Mencia grapes grown at 200-250 meters above sea level
fresh and fruity with mineral and some cherry / acidity on the finish
*** 1/2+

Dominio de Tares 2009 Bembibre
($47.00 - #433680)
creamy black fruit, smoky and toasty with a burnt toast-coffee finish
*** 1/2+
Bodegas Alto Moncayo 2012 Garnacha
($49.00 - #396358)
blackberry, black cherry, chocolate all with a spicy finish
Bodegas Alto Moncayo 2012 Veraton
($32.95 - #173211)
incredibly juicy with lots of cherry, both red and black
*** 1/2+
Corona de Aragon 2012 Anayon Garnacha
($30.95 - #424424)
mocha, black cherry and pepper; a real full and robust wine
Corona de Aragon 2012 Anayon Carinena
($32.00 - #432047)
aromas are heavy on the red berries
while the palate is cherry, chocolate, cassis and blackberry
*** 1/2+
Emilio Lustau Solera Reserva Moscatel Sherry
($36.00 - #433052)
a rarity to see Moscatel made into a stand alone sherry
excellent floral notes with good acidity and balancing sweetness
refreshes instead of overly sweet, pleasant spice to the finish
Bodegas Alceno 2012 Seleccion Crianza
($21.00 - #433334)
75% Monastrell with Tempranillo and Syrah aged 8 months in oak
easy drinking with red fruit and depth of cocoa and white pepper
Bodegas Alceno 2010 Monastrell Dulce
($32.00/375ml - #433334)
a sweet yet pretty dessert wine with violet, cherry, sweet blackberry
and spice - wild fermented to 16%
*** 1/2+
Dominio Dostares 2012 Estay Prieto Picudo
($17.00 - #393140)
made from the Prieto Picudo (dark and pointed) because of the cone shape of the bunch
there are only 300 hectares of this grape planted in the area

lots of dark fruit, spice, cocoa and tannins after only 6 months in oak
*** 1/2+
Dominio de Punctum 2014 Viento Aliseo Viognier
($15.95 - #424713)
fresh and fruity with peach, pineapple and a lemon pith finish
*** 1/2
Dominio de Punctum 2012 Viento Aliseo Graciano/Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.00 - #432021)
a 50/50 blend of the grapes:
sandlewood, cassis and black cherry, very silky
Bodegas Toro Albala 1986 Don PX Gran Reserva
($53.00 - #434068)
thick and raisiny with good mid-palate acidity
bottled in 2014

Bodegas Toro Albala 1962 Don PX Reserva Especial
($205.00 - #424085)
thick, hedonistic and unctuous; gorgeous bottle of sweet almond, hazelnut,
dates, figs, raisins, yet such great acidity for balance and length of finish
Outstanding: **** 1/2+
Chivite 2011 Finca de Villatuerta Syrah
($25.00 - #432005)
single vineyard Syrah that's smooth and silky with black fruit,
nice acidity and gentle spice
Torres 2010 Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon
($59.00 - #129676)
nice mocha/chocolate, herbal, cassis, blackberry with smoky and spice finish

Torres 2012 Salmos
($31.00 - #60772)
a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
red fruit, nicely spiced, silky smooth and a juicy finish
Bodegas Valdemar 2012 Fincas Valdemar Crianza
($27.00 - #432781)
a Tempranillo based wine aged 12 months in oak
chocolate and white pepper with the delicacy of black cherry, blackberry,
and a short mocha finish with a hint of vanilla - still quite smooth
*** 1/2
Baron de Ley 2007 7 Vinas Reserva
($46.00 - #91983)
cocoa/mocha with red and black cherry, white pepper and an herbed finish

Bodegas Palacios Remondo 2012 La Montesa Crianza
($21.95 - #674572)
fruity, earthy and spicy with an herbal finish
*** 1/2+
Bodegas Valdemar 2005 Inspiracion Valdemar Graciano
($34.95 - #423525)
smoky-meaty, dried blackberry and mocha

Gonzlez Byass 2011 Beronia III AC
($80.00 - #433326)
coffee/latte, wood smoke, vanilla, blueberry and spice; long oaky finish
*** 1/2+
Luis Canas 2007 Hiru 3 Racimos
($157.00 - #434746)
juicy blackberry, cassis, mocha, cherry, spice; big, thick, juicy and spicy -
there's also a long licorice-smoky finish
Principe de Viana 2011 Rioja Vega 9 Barricas
($37.95 - #433706)
licorice, smoke, cassis, choke cherry and pepper with big tannins but so elegant.

Bodegas Coral Duero 2006 Rompesedas
($19.95 - #425868)
100% new oak: 60/40 French/American split for 18 months
mouth-filling with spice, tannins and acidity - a real food wine:
dark fruit lingers in the background waiting to pounce
Vintae 2012 Matsu el Recio
($19.95 - #424408)
90 year old vines aged 14 months in oak
the fruit is subtle with spice alongside, the balance is lovely
Muga 2011 Reserva
($23.95 - #177345)
blackberry, herbal/smoky and pencil shavings
*** 1/2+

Compania de Vinos del Atlantico 2012 Gordo Tinto
($18.00 - #432435)
Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon blend (70/30)
raspberry, strawberries and licorice with a nice long berry finish; very pretty

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Report from: A Meeting with Paul Hobbs - June 11, 2015

Do you know this man???
Let's assume for a moment that you have never heard the name Paul Hobbs - if that is indeed the case I'll bet you know some of the wineries where the wines have bore his signature: Robert Mondavi, Opus One, Simi, Peter Michael, Fisher, Lewis, Catena and a multitude of others. Some of these wines he has made directly, others he has consulted on the making of.  He event has his hands here in Ontario (Stratus) - Paul's reach and influence is felt everywhere.

His past is what made him today and his most famous story is how he came to work with Catena: he started consulting in 1989 and Nicolas Catena helped Paul start his own winery in California: "he was a great businessman," said Paul of Nicolas, "I was the wine guy; he helped me with the business side, I helped him make wine."

Today there is the winery that bears Paul's name, his Argentine project, Vina Cobos, and his newest project in his home state of New York with 65 acres on Seneca Lake (opening soon).

Today during the lunch and tasting we tasted wines from the two major Hobbs projects (California & Argentina) and hopefully, the next time he comes through town, he'll have stuff from New York ... Here we go:

We have come to the church of Paul Hobbs let us pray:
Today's Five Wines ...

Paul Hobbs 2013 Crossbarn Chardonnay ($29.95)
80% tank fermented / 20% in neutral French oak
Despite the majority of tank Chardonnay it's rich with a touch of spice on the finish;
creamy with spiced-apple, peach, hints of vanilla cream and lemon drop, good acidity.
Rating: ****
Paul Hobbs 2013 Russian River Chardonnay ($54.95)
12 months French oak, 47% new
Delicate vanilla cream, lemon drop, good acidity, and creamy mid-palate;
a lovely sipper: soft and silky on the finish.
Rating: ****+
Vina Cobos 2013 Felino Malbec ($19.95)
100% Malbec from a semi-desert climate
Aromas of blueberry and cassis; Palate is smoky with black currant,
vanilla and spice - needs time to smooth out those harsh edges.
Rating: *** 1/2+
Paul Hobbs 2012 Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon ($54.95)
20 months in French and American oak; 14% new
There's a nice sweet raspberry and cherry smell; palate is rich and succulent
with blackberry, red and black cherry, mocha, spice; slight chalky intensity to the finish.
Rating: ****+
Paul Hobbs 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($99.95)
95% Cabernet Sauvignon / 3% Petit Verdot / 1% Malbec and Cabernet Franc
Aged 20 months in French oak, 65% new
Aromas: sweet red and black fruit with chocolate and vanilla;
Palate: dark fruit with rich robust tannins; touch smoky-vanilla, blackberry,
cassis and a spicy long finish --- this wine has a long life ahead of it and
is one heck of a mouthfilling wine with lots of flavour; what a tasty wine.
Rating: **** 1/2
And he rests his case ... can I here an "Amen"