Posts Tagged ‘tannins’

Vancouver Island Blog Part 3 – The New Guard!

August 22, 2019

Last – but not least – on my trip to Vancouver Island were two new wineries. Well, one with new owners…and one that is only a couple of years old!

I started at Alderlea Vineyards (on the other side of the Island Highway from where you turn to go to Averill Creek). I have tried to find this winery a couple of times before but either couldn’t find it or it was closed. Well, this time I found it…it was open…and boy, was I impressed!

New owners is the reason, I think…Zac and Julie bought the winery a couple of years ago and were pouring the results of there efforts, both white and red.

For the whites, my favourite was one called 2018 Valerie, co-owner Julie’s wine made from a blend of Ortega and Viognier. It won a Gold medal at the recent Canadian Wine Championships and I can see why…explosively fruity but bone dry, just lovely!

But, as a “reds guy”, it was the Reserve Pinot Noir (2016) that really turned my head! Burgundian in style, but with very ripe fruit and tannins (most Burgundies would die for this level of fruit concentration). It also has tremendous potential (although beautiful to drink now as well). And at about $32 it represents amazing value!

Oh, and that Merlot I mentioned in Blog Part 1…Zac got this smile on his face as we were talking about fruit-forward wines…then he looked sideways and with a finger beckoned me back into the cellar…where he got me a sample of something from a barrel. “Merlot” he said…and when I stuck my nose in it…wow! Pure plums and blueberries…super ripe, no oak presence at all…if the wine stays that way when bottled, I will buy…a lot of it!

The other winery I “found” is called Emandare. It is the same side of the Island Highway as Alderlea, although a bit closer. I got to meet Mike, the co-owner/winemaker…he bought the site with vines a few years ago. Major emphasis on quality fruit, and it showed in the wines!

The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was my favourite white…crisp, clean, no oak, lots of citrus…too bad it is already sold out! But, once again, it was a Pinot Noir that stole the show!

At first, when I saw the price – $45 – I paused…a lot for a BC wine…and not a reserve either. But when I stuck my nose in the glass…wow…it was pure berry Pinot Noir, very rich and ripe without being jammy and candied. It was even better in the mouth, with firm but ripe tannins wrapped around the cherry fruit. It is a few years away from being at its best…and I decided to buy a couple to see how it turns out!

That was all the time I had for the day, but if the future of Vancouver Island is represented by these two wineries, it is in very good hands indeed!

SB

www.sbwinesite.com

Wine Tastings and Wine Dinners – a Few Tips

September 13, 2018

Fall is a great time for many reasons, and wine is one of them! A return to red wines is a must, as is the hearty food that shows them off so well.

It can also mean more wine events, including tastings and wine dinners. I had the good fortunate to attend one of both this week and found a few “bugaboos” at each I thought I would share…they might increase you enjoyment at such events (and limit how much you annoy others!).

Wine Tastings

Select your wine and move on

This has to be my biggest pet peeve! People ask for a one from the rep and then just stand there, either tasting it or talking to the rep, while the line waits behind them! The unwritten rule – maybe it should be written – is get your wine, ask a quick question, and then move on so others can taste.

Spit don’t drink

If you are planning to taste more than a couple of wines, I strongly advise you to spit. Some people think its gross, but it isn’t – in fact, winemakers see it as as sign of respect. And its easy to do. If you don’t, you could end up getting drunk or worse (i.e. getting sick or falling down on someone…).

White then red…not back and forth

At most tastings, the red wine are young, which can mean at least some are tannic. That tends to coat the palate, making it harder to taste other wines. It can also make it almost impossible to taste more delicate white wines.

So have a plan…white before red works well. Same as with sweet wines, by the way…save them till the end or it could ruin any dry wines you go back on.

Wine Dinners

I won’t get into basic social niceties here…although they can definitely play a role (especially the more you drink!). But here are a couple of wine suggestions.

Drink the wines in order

There is a reason the wines are paired the way they are – they are supposed to go with certain dishes, and also not upstage the wines to come. If you jump around, it often impacts your enjoyment of both the food and the wine.

You don’t have to finish all the wine

If you are having 5 or 6 courses, the quantity of wine can add up quickly! So don’t feel like you have to finish each glass…it can end up making you tipsy before you get to the end of the meal!

Save a little in each glass to taste later

Depending on the wines, its also interesting to come back and taste them later. Young wines, in particular, soften up with exposure to air, and can end up tasting remarkable different – and better – after even 30 minutes sitting there!

So there you go…a few tips to help you through Fall!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

 

HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR WINE IS TOO OLD

August 20, 2014

I was struggling a bit this week, trying to figure what to write about. But then, inspiration!

While still lovely outside, it has cooled down enough to go back into my cellar for some older red wines. We were going to have barbecue leg of lamb (which turned out fabulous, by the way), so I thought…how about Cabernet Sauvignon? A peek at my cellar book showed an Aussie Cab was down for drinking this year – a 1999 Maxwell Lime Cave – so it seemed a match made in heaven!

Until I pulled the cork, that is…

First off, the cork was brittle, and almost broke off. But that isn’t necessarily unusual for a 15 year old wine. However, when I poured it and stuck my nose inside the glass…oh no!

Brown sugar, essence of tea…was it over the hill? And, hence, my topic for today (you have to wait to the end to hear if the wine was done, by the way!).

So how do you know if your wines are too old? Not “off” – meaning there wasn’t something wrong with the cork or the wine itself – but just past the date when they are enjoyable.

Well, a couple of simple tests will help you.

For white wines, it is easier. If they are oaked – meaning mostly Chardonnay – check out the colour first. If the golden yellow has deepened significantly, that is a bad sign. Worse, though, is if you smell it and…all you get is wood! That probably means the oak has completely overwhelmed the fruit, leaving you with a mouthful of toothpicks. Double check by tasting, of course, but if the wine tastes like it smells, it is probably done (unless you like chewing on wood).

Reds, though, can be a different matter altogether.

Colour may not be as good an indicator. Tonight’s wine, for example, was still a deep red at 15 years of age. So no hint there.

So now it is in your glass, dark red…what next?

Well, there are some telltale aromas that could indicated your wine as passed its “best before date”. Burnt leaves and tea are a couple of them – in my experience, that often shows that the wine has aged beyond its fruit. Sweetness on the nose might also be another indication. And the same with over woodiness (similar to the white wine example above).

But do taste it to confirm! Sometimes, older wines just get funky on the nose! It may blow off, but sometimes it doesn’t.

If you taste the wine and it is unpleasant – with the same kind of flavours as aromas – then it is probably done. But you may be surprised…

Which brings us back to my wine from tonight! A somewhat off-putting nose lead to a very nice vanilla/black currant wine! It was a bit dried out, but not woody at all. Turned out to be a great example or an old Cabernet Sauvignon, and way better than many Bordeaux of the same age!

So there you go…some tips on how to tell if your wine is too old.

But the last one is the most important one. If you still like the taste of the wine – white or red – then it doesn’t really matter. Drink it, for goodness sake! Your taste is the one that matters the most!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

WINE LABELS PART 2 – WHAT SHOULD BE ON THE BACK!

April 9, 2014

I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago on wine labels, decrying the tendency towards ridiculous labels on wine bottles. Now, I want to follow up on what should be on the label on the back of the wine!

Traditionally, there is a bunch of bumpf about where the wine is made, commitment to quality, etc. But how about a novelty – actually tell people what the wine is going to taste like? Kind of like truth in advertising!

So, for example, you have a Cabernet Sauvignon or blend made in the Bordeaux style. Instead of saying something like “complex, sophisticated wine that goes great with food and will develop over many years”, why not say “this wine will taste little like the fruit it was made of; instead, you will find woody aromas and flavours, followed by astringent tannins that will be unpleasant now and probably never resolve.”

A more Californian style wine made from the same grapes would say “expect to smell vanilla covered black currants, followed by ripe currant fruit with only a touch of wood.”

The same could be done with Merlot – old world and new world. For the former, it would read “If you like coffee or chocolate rather than fruit, this is the wine for you; a touch bitter, with no obvious fruit”. Compare that to “look for an explosion of dark plummy fruit with just a touch of vanilla and mint.”

Starting to get the picture? The same thing could apply to the Syrah vs Shiraz argument. “Pepper, lean but ripe black cherries, licorice and earth” would be the former, whereas “if you like blackberry jam, this is the wine for you!”

And let’s not forget white wines! How about Chardonnay – oaked vs un-oaked. The former would be “Vanilla, butterscotch and almonds delicately covering citrus fruit that coats the mouth.” Whereas the latter would be “No wood here! Just super ripe citrus!”

Am I being a bit sarcastic? Perhaps. But I think you get the idea.

Many people buying wine don’t have the experience – or interest – to know much about it. They go by what they read.

So why not give them the facts?

SB

http://www.sbwinsite.com