2012 Famille Perrin Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes-du-Rhone

With a pebbled vineyard “Galets Roulés” like Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and located very near the Chateau de Beaucastel vineyard this Cotes-Du-Rhone is oft considered a baby CdP-Beaucastel. With upwards of 30-Hectares of vineyards there’s thankfully quite a bit of this to go around. IMG_2554

I have to say Cotes-du-Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines were some of the first reds I drank. In fact, one of my first “big” wines was a CdP and while I’ve moved on to try many other great wines I still have a special place in my heart for the wines of the Southern Rhone. I can’t think of a more iconic name in the region, with the Beaucastel name dating back to the 16th century and the Perrin Family taking ownership in the early 1900’s there’s surely a history and a sense of place when it comes to these wines.

This style of wine with perfectly ripe fruit and savoury notes is something that I deeply enjoy. After leaving for a few hours in the glass the wine started to open up and show red cherries, redcurrant, blackberries, pepper, thyme, lavender, violets, vanilla, leather, earth and mineral notes. With red fruit, herbs and flowers predominant on the nose. The tannins seem to have softened and along with the medium moving towards medium + acidity make for a balanced wine with a medium + finish. One of the better, if not the best, Cotes-du-Rhone on the market, although certainly priced more like a CdP.

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Cheers,
Ben

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2014 Golan Heights Winery Galilee

Just a quick review today. This is actually a first for me, I’ve never had an Israeli wine before. This red is from Galilee in the north of Israel, specifically the Golan Heights region. If the name sounds familiar it might be because of the sea of Galilee located nearby, which is where Jesus is said to have walked on water. According to their website the vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 1,300 feet to 3,900 feet, the Golan Heights Winery is located in the town of Katzrin in the central Golan. img_2551.jpg

This wine is a blend of five international Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The ambitious blend is more Right bank in style with ripe fruit that seem more reminiscent of Franc and Merlot. This wine seems to be made in a fairly ripe style, which is personally not something I particularly enjoy but if you’re in to more ripe new-world style wines than this one may be for you. I get notes of cherries, plum, blueberry, vanilla, rosemary, cinnamon and smoke. While the ripe fruit shines through there’s definitely a distinct spiciness, something that gives the wine some interest. While the tannins are starting to resolve this wine suffers from a lack of acidity, something that I think keeps the wine from feeling balanced and makes the fruit, perhaps a little flabby. I’d be willing to give this wine another try though, although likely in a different vintage. I haven’t seen any reviews of the 2014 but from what I’ve seen online the 2012, 2013 and 2016 have been well received. All in all it was interesting to try something different and I will definitely be looking to try more if I can find it (here in Newfoundland we currently don’t have any).

Have a wine from Israel you’d like to recommend? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Ben

2014 P. Dubreuil-Fontaine Père & Fils Bourgogne Aligoté

Aligoté is one of those white wine grapes that seems to fly under the radar of the average wine drinker. While the grape is the 22nd most planted in the world, not exactly Cabernet Sauvignon, but not insignificant in terms of production either, it’s not common at all in the North American marketplace. FullSizeRender (1)

There’s two major reasons for this as far as I can tell, the first being that it’s vastly overshadowed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, where the best examples of this wine are made. Secondly, many Eastern European countries have started making some serious examples of this wine, Romania and Bulgaria in particular. At less than 2% of all production in Burgundy there’s not much of this wine to go around, much of it is drank locally, most of the rest domestically. After a quick browse of the NLC, LCBO and NSLC liqour boards here in Canada I could only find two available, this wine being one of them.

This wine displays distinct lemon-lime citrus moving towards green apple and pear notes with further honeysuckle flowers, cream and wet slate minerality. A vivacious acidity with restrained lees action gives this wine a beautiful crisp mouthfeel, and while the finish is not excessively long it definitely sticks around on the palate long enough for you to realize that this is a pretty serious wine. This wine is best enjoyed within a few years of bottling, try this solid Bourgogne Aligote or look for top-tier examples from Bouzeron, part of the Cote Chalonnaise in Burgundy.

Ever had an Aligote wine? I’d love to hear about it!

Have a good weekend everyone.

Cheers,
Ben

2015 Cave Springs Cabernet Franc

I’ve always had a liking for single varietal Cabernet Franc or Franc dominant blends from the Right Bank of Bordeaux in France. However, over the last year I’ve had the chance to taste several Canadian versions, namely from Tawse, Norman Hardie and now from Cave Springs. I must say I’ve been quite impressed with all of them at their varying price points but without a doubt I would have to say that the Norman Hardie Cab Franc came out on top, that was truly an elegant wine. IMG_2494

This Cave Springs on the other hand is a little juicier with more defined mint and herbal components, although not over the top. It’s delicious in its out right and at exactly half the price here locally (Newfoundland), it’s a no-brainer to pick up a couple of bottles of this Cave Spring for sipping. Aside from the herbal character, which I actually quite enjoy, there really is quite a bit of depth and structure. Ample raspberry, plum and blueberry character shows, as well smoke, violets, and a crushed stone minerality come through. There’s also some vanilla and toasty notes kicking around on the back of the palate. The tannins in this one are still a touch grippy and could use another year or two but the wine is still very drinkable right now. The acidity medium +, high alcohol and a solid medium + finish. At right around the $20 mark you can’t go wrong with this juicy yet structured Niagara red.

Another thing I love about Cave Springs is that they post all the nerdy details about their wines on their website. That means I don’t have to go searching out about the types of soils and age spent in oak on their wines.  To paraphrase their site this Beamsville Bench based wine is from stony clay till composed primarily of limestone and dolostone mixed with sandstone, shale and traces of granite and gneiss with the wine spending 2 days in a cold maceration followed by fermentation using selected yeast strains; ageing for 18 months in 10% new and 90% older French and Hungarian oak barriques and puncheons.

Have a favourite Cabernet Franc wine? I’d love to hear about it!

Have a good weekend everybody!

Cheers,
Ben

2016 Bernard Moreau et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay

The 2016 Bernard Moreau et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay is delicious and complex, albeit a little more tropical with the fruit than I normally enjoy, nevertheless the lime, lemon and pear fruit are dominant with the melon and pineapple notes more of an afterthought. White flowers, cream and baking spice melange with a smoke and flint character that add further interest to this already great value of a wine. The acidity here cuts through the riper fruit and allows this wine to be paired with lighter shellfish, as well as the obvious chicken, pork and ripe cheeses that this style of wine would normally be paired with. Somehow a richness is maintained despite the major fruit notes here being from citrus fruit. IMG_2490

This isn’t my favourite style of wine but it’s a wine I feel I would enjoy even more with a proper food pairing. I’m thinking maybe a crab quiche or lobster thermidor, something that would allow both the acidic and creamy aspect of this wine to shine. I think it’s fair to say that this is one of the best Bourgogne whites I’ve had, it’s certainly considerably more interesting than a lot of others. This may be as good or better than a lot of the village Burgundy out there. Give this wine another 2-3 years to really come into its own. If you want a relatively good value from a region that doesn’t do value I’ve found the wine for you. Check this one out if you can find it, there’s limited availability at the NLC (locally) and some recent vintages available at major retailers in London and NYC.

Happy Wine Wednesday and Valentine’s Day everyone!

Cheers,
Ben

2002 Château Guiraud Sauternes

When speaking about dessert wines Sauternes is easily the most famous dessert wine in the world, and while they’re delicious, at their high-end they can often be incredibly expensive. With brands like D’Yquem and Doisy-Daene often costing $250 or more, for a half bottle. That being said for the painstaking process and the specific growing conditions required to make Sauternes, it’s often amazing how cheap these wines can be. Certainly at the very high end the prices can be outrageous but there are countless amazing and well known producers making outstanding wine for less than $30 for a half bottle. Not cheap for everyone but certainly more affordable.

Take this 16 year old Sauterne from Chateau Guiraud, for example. In what other wine producing region of the world can you get such an excellent sweet wine for less than $30, especially one with this much bottle age that is available all over the world. It’s availability clearly points to a declining global market for the excellent producers that fall just short of the greatness of D’Yquem. So for those that are not looking to buy the ladder wine as a “status” symbol purchase or because they’re full of cash there are lots of other outstanding wines available. Guiraud, Coutet and Rieussec just to name a few of the well-known high-quality producers.

2002 wasn’t a great vintage for Sauternes but there was definitely still some solid wine made and given the decreased market for the wines, even less demand. With this in mind I picked up a bottle of this just to give it a try to see if I might want some more for cellaring. IMG_2447

Upon opening this wine has already started moving towards an amber colour that would seem to indicate quite a lot of progression in bottle. This was definitely a complex and funky wine with definitive marmalade characters. Definitive orange and lemon peel notes with apricot and melon coming through. Then there’s this whole layer of vanilla and clove, finally another layer, this one funky with botrytis, honey and nuts – appears to be walnut and/or almond. I’ve got to say that this big rich wine has hit its peak or is perhaps even beginning to decline. That being said this was absolutely wonderful and with such a depth of flavour. There’s enough acidity there to back this wine up but only just. For the price this wine is a no-brainer and has the potential to offer immense pleasure, however, if you’ve got the pockets and can find it I would try something even a little bit older, even one year older as all the 2001’s I’ve had have been out of this world. If not look for 1997, 1990, 1983, 1976 or best of all 1975.

Have a favourite sweet wine? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Ben