Search This Blog

Sunday, December 2, 2012


From The Foreign Affair Winery, where wines are made with the
appassimento partial grape drying method found in the Veneto, e.g.,
1. The Foreign Affair Chardonnay 2009 VQA Niagara, $29.95, 14.5% ABV:
this is a real treat from the Crispino Vineyard. About 10% of the
grapes were set aside for partial drying, and then combined together in
French oak for about a year. Here is creaminess blended with Ontario
chardonnay profile (apples, peaches, citrus tones), with some
underbrush and caramel from the toasted oak. It's a soft finish but
mouth-filling. Perfect to sip and ruminate about.
2. The Foreign Affair Pinot Noir 2009, $44.95, 14.2% ABV: about 20% of
the grapes were partially dried and then added to the wine, in French
oak for over a year. More underbrush, mushrooms, Ontario cranberry
notes, oaky creaminess, long finish. Great with lamb shanks and
cheeses. Oak notes are perfect for the wine lover, but may dissipate
over time.
3. The Foreign Affair Sauvignon Blanc 2009 VQA Niagara, $27.95, 14%
ABV: 25% partially dried grapes added, from Crispino Vineyard, aged
five months in French oak. It is very suggestive of Fume Blanc with its
barrel aging, but not as toasty in the North American style. More
fruit-forward than herbaceous, the wine is a good introduction to the
appassimento style of wine-making.
4. The Foreign Affair Merlot 2009 VQA Niagara, $42, 15.1% ABV: French
oak aging of course, intensely aromatic, juicy but with softer tannins
at the end. More mocha and black fruit, a very deep wine. In some
years, petit verdot may be added to give some weight to the wine.
5. The Foreign Affair Riesling 2009 VQA Niagara, $24.95, 13.4% ABV:
about 20% partially dried grapes in the appassimento, but no wood.
Dried grapes would tend to concentrate the fruit flavours, and here
those are peaches and apricots. It's a medium-dry style, drier than a
Sussreserve, and with citric tones on the finish. The minerality
definitely needs food.
6. The Foreign Affair Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 VQA Niagara, $38, 14.8%
ABV: here, 40% of the grapes were dried, leading to enormous
concentration. Aged in French oak for 19 months. Definite mocha tones
and some fennel seed, rich and full bodied, but a low tannic feel that
makes the wine more approachable in its youth. A well-made delight.
7. The Foreign Affair Temptress 2009 VQA Niagara, $45, 15.3% ABV: a
powerhouse blend of over 50% merlot, one-third cabernet sauvignon, plus
some petit verdot or cabernet franc. 40% is appassimento, with French
oak aging for over a year. Each grape was fermented separately with
blending at the end. Pomerol style, maybe St-Emilion too, but right
bank intensity featuring black currants and mocha tones. Very plumy,
guaranteed to make you come back for more.

8. The Foreign Affair Conspiracy 2010 VQA Niagara, $19.95 Vintages
+149237: here the Cabernet sauvignon wine was passed over the lees from
previously dried grapes in the well-known Ripasso method from the
Veneto. The juice re-ferments and finishes with more richness and depth
than would otherwise be possible. The softer finish means that it is
also ready sooner. Expect mocha tones and some baked flavours of black
fruit. 12.8% ABV.
More from Ontario –
-Colio Lake & River Series Moonlight White 2011 VQA Ontario, $10.95,
+183095: new vintage, new label design. Blend of 60% chardonnay, 40%
riesling, 12% ABV, all stainless. Basically apples and lemons, rounded
out by the riesling peaches. Twist top, good party wine.
-Colio Lake & River River Rock Red 2010 VQA Ontario, $10.95, +183103:
new vintage, new label design. Blend of 65% cabernet franc, 21%
cabernet sauvignon, and 14% syrah, eight months in older oak barrels,
12.8% ABV. Basically black fruit with some plumminess. Twist top, good
party wine.
-Chateau des Charmes Generation 7 Gamay Nouveau 2012 VQA, $11.95,
+318600: released on November 15: a fresh, fruity, fun wine for young
people, a crowd pleaser, 13% ABV, twist top. 50 cents from every bottle
is donated to the Meal Exchange.
From Washington State --
14 Hands Hot to Trot White Blend 2010 Washington State, $14.65, +280859
LCBO: another worthy wine in the white blend sweepstakes. This
Conundrum wannabe succeeds with its orchard fruit (apples, pears, and
peaches), some tropicality, and its soft, party-like finish. There's
some chardonnay, pinot gris, and viognier in the mix, all done up in
stainless steel. 13% ABV.
14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend 2009 Washington State, $15.30, +226522
LCBO: red blends hearken back to Euro wines such as Bordeaux. Here the
blend is syrah, merlot, petit verdot, mourvedre, and possibly others.
Ripe cherries, plums, dark fruit tones, mocha/coffee delights, plush
and lush tannins but soft enough for a party. Some barrel aging in
older wood for added complexity. 13.5% ABV.

From Stratus Vineyards,


1. Wildass (Stratus) Red 2011 VQA Niagara, Vintages 2013, $19.95: fresh and lively, available at winery and next year at Vintages. 31% cab franc, 28% merlot, 18% cab sauv, 11% syrah, 5% tannat, 3% Tempranillo, 1% sangiovese – a real Euro blend of red varieties. Some new oak is used (11%) is what is a well-known second label of Stratus, originally introduced for restaurants a few years back but now extremely popular as a series of red, white and rose blends. 14% ABV, mouth-filling balance, needs another year.


2. Wildass (Stratus) White 2008 VQA Niagara, winery only, $19.95: this is a little curious sample since later years are available for sale. It is oak-aged (33% new oak) with many of the same grapes as in the Stratus White. It's still fresh and oaky, in a dried late harvest style, but for how much longer? 13.5 ABV, balanced sipper.


3. Stratus White 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +660704 Vintages, $44.20: a blend of some 32% Semillon, 31% sauvignon blanc, 18% chardonnay, 15% viognier, and 4% gewurztraminer. 25% new oak used, balance in older wood. Just about every Stratus blend has the percentages of the grapes listed. Either Stratus is daring other wineries to copy the blend or to list their own proprietary information about their blend on their label. Tropicality is the order of the day, with the impact of Semillon, viognier and Gewurz. There are fresh apples, apricots, oranges, and a touch of smoothness from the wood, finishes with good acidity for food too. 13.5% ABV.


4. Stratus Red 2009 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +131037 Vintages, $44.20: a blend of 43% cab franc, 22% cab sauv, 17% syrah, 13% petit verdot, 4% tannat, and 1% merlot (according to the back label). New oak forms 25% of the storage, balance in older wood. This is a huge wine, loaded with black fruit and mocha (blackberry, raspberry, black cherry, chocolate and coffee), smoke and toast, needs more time. I kept it open a week, and while it was still dense, it had a longer finish and more fruit. If serving it now, do a double decant first. 13.5% ABV.


5. Stratus Riesling Icewine 2008 VQA Niagara, +56671 Vintages, $39.85 for 200 mL: expect tropicality of peaches and minerals, finish is bracing with some off-dry citric acidity. Slightly higher alcohol than most Ontario icewine. 12.5% ABV.


6. Stratus Red Icewine 2011 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, +56689 Vintages Essentials, $39.85 for 200 mL: expect more cherry-berry intensity, with some Ontario cranberry sourness in the finish. The blend includes syrah, cab franc, and mourvedre. Slightly high alcohol than most Ontario icewine. 12.5% ABV.


From Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW), on the shores of Lake Erie:


7. CREW Posh Cuvee 2011 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, $13 at winery: continues the theme of boats and ships with its POSH line. Here it is a carefully crafted blend of chardonnay, riesling and gewurztraminer (presumably in descending order of quantity) that joins the newest trend in Ontario wines (white party blends). At 12.1% it's a definite sipper or party wine with swings of spices, limes, citric floral tones augmented by orchard fruit.


8. CREW Merlot 2008 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, $15 at winery: shows off the velvety texture of merlot, softness augmented by plums, spices, and oak tones. Mocha can be found here too. Barrel aged for 18 months. 13.7% ABV.


9. CREW Cabernet Franc 2008 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, $22 at winery: a more serious effort at red wine, giving off the familiar Ontario cranberry and green pepper tones. Definitely a food wine with its tannins and minerality, needs more time in the bottle. A consistent award winner for past vintages. 13.8% ABV.


8. CREW Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 VQA Lake Erie North Shore, $20 at winery: the best of the reds, in my opinion – slight late harvest in style (fully ripened grapes) with black cherry-berry fruit, cassis tones, mocha, a bit of chewy leather. Obviously needs more time, but should reward you. I kept my bottle open for a week to check on its development. A big wine before its time, 14.9% ABV.




11. Project Paso Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles County 2011, +291153, $17.90: at 13.5% ABV, expect power in this new cabby addition to the General List at the LCBO. There's some California dust and spiciness, as well as black frit. Some petite sirah and grenache have been added for complexity, all aged in half French and half US oak. A steak house wine.


12. Domaine La Roche Saint Martin Chablis 2011, +269678, $21.95: typical MVC for the region, minerality, wet stone, lemony-citric acidity, best with food. Twist top. All done in stainless steel with minimal filtration. Natural, pre-organic farming. SAQ reports it sold over 10,000 cases of this wine in Quebec last year.


13. Masi Masianco 2011 IGT Verona, +620773, $14.95: pinot grigio and verduzzo (an indigenous grape variety) combine to produce a sipper/food wine, with peach and apricot tones augmenting the steely lemons of the PG. 13% ABV. Best with a first course, part of a holiday package with Masi Campofiorin (+253690, 32.90, a saving of 50 cents plus an added value drip collar).


14. Masi Campofiorin 2009 IGT Verona, +155051, $18.45: mad since 1964, using dried grapes in a sortof Amarone style. Cherry-berry cheerfulness, all purpose red, goes with anything anywhere: party, aperitif, pasta, roasts, cheeses. Part of a holiday package with Masi Masianco (+253690, 32.90, a saving of 50 cents plus an added value drip collar).

No comments: