2005 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon

My first post ever on this blog highlighted a Wynns wine which I was drinking at the time. A Wynns Coonawarra Estate “The Gables” Cabernet Shiraz blend. I generally try not to post wines from the same winery more than once, especially ones that are well-known the world over, but what can I say, I have a soft spot for these wines it would seem. Today I want to share with you the 2005 Wynns Coonwarra Estate John Riddoch Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a little background on the region to help in understanding the wine, terroir and significance of this bottling.

Coonawarra was first planted with grapevines, by a Scottish settler of all people. His name was John Riddoch, yes the same John Riddoch that this wine is named after. According to the bottle the plantings began in 1891, with the wineries initial plantings finished by 1896. The infamous red “Terra Rossa” soils, which only stretch over an area of 1km wide by 15 km long, are some of the most well-known in the world. The soils, climate and magic here, along with the best sites in Bordeaux and Napa, produce some of the best wines in the world.

According to the history of the region it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as “it wasn’t until 1951, when Melbourne-based winemaker and merchant Samuel Wynn and Co. purchased the property, that Coonawarra’s wine industry was revitalized.” In more recent times it’s the wineries long time winemaker Sue Hodder that has taken charge of the estates legacy. Now in her 27th year as winemaker, she has an intimate knowledge of the vast vineyards at her disposal and based on recent tastings of other Wynns wines I’ve had, it seems as if they’re only getting better. It’s also true that it’s not just the estates top wines, which are highly sought after, but also vine cuttings. Apparently there are “14 different clones, including heritage selections, with many still on their own rootstocks” that people seek to use in the planting of their own vineyards. img_3335

It wasn’t entirely by accident that I decided to open this bottle of wine this evening. I mean I was making homemade lamb burgers and grilling up sausages as part of a feast for a bunch of close friends, which I guess could be considered reason enough. But I was also doing so to honour the memory of a family friend named Sue. She was kind, compassionate and most definitely loved a good glass of Cabernet. She didn’t want flowers, she wanted us to remember the important things. To enjoy family, life and to do nice things for others. I could think of no better send-off then to drink an astounding bottle of wine in her memory. It wasn’t until after I had finished the bottle that I made the connection that this wine was made by a female winemaker, who’s also named Sue. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

This 2005 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet starts off with prominent blackberry and cassis notes on the nose along with thyme, eucalyptus and earth coming through as well. On the palate more pronounced with leather, white pepper, coffee and liquorice all coming through in their own distinct way. The tannins have softened and the medium + acidity provides some freshness to this concentrated yet elegant wine. Once upon a time I imagine this may have been bolder and highly tannic but now it has mellowed and taken on ample secondary character. The wine is complex, delicious and surprisingly food friendly and I would recommend purchasing for near term drinking if you can find it.

Ever had this bottling? Like the wines of the region? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Ben

 

 

Advertisements

Champagne Bonnaire Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Who doesn’t love Champagne? Not anybody that I know. I think it’s fair to say that bubbles and Champagne in particular is one of those universal things that is enjoyed for celebrations the world over. It’s great that Champagne is able to put off that image but when the price and the quality is right it can also be a damn enjoyable splurge on the weekend or just to celebrate the simple joys of life. 7854190416_img_8905 (1)

I know when I’m buying Champagne that I’m going to be shelling out some cash but I think there’s some great values to be found. Whether these wines are coming from smaller Champagne houses or lesser known Grower-Champagne producers there’s deals to be found. In Canada as a whole, with the possible exception of Quebec, you would be lucky to find a Champagne in the sub $50 range. This particular wine the Champagne Bonnaire Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs was a dreamy $40 Canadian on purchase, believe it may have been slightly discounted, but drank like a wine almost twice the price. This price may still be a little steep for some people but the reality is you get what you pay for and if you care about wine the way I do, I don’t mind splurging an extra $10-15 to drink something nice on the weekend. It’s an article for another day to be sure but I do think it’s important to know how much you can or ought to spend on wine. For me this Champagne was just at the edge of my budget but well worth it.

Now to take a look at the wine. Upon putting the wine to my nose it was clear that this wine was made in a creamy style and that malolactic fermentation had indeed occurred. Ripe green apples, lemon, pear jelly, brioche and some mineral character. There’s still refreshing and sharp acidity to balance out the creaminess of this hedonistic and well crafted wine. A very pleasant wine indeed.

Who else enjoys their bubbles?

Cheers,
Ben

Why I Drink So Much New Zealand Pinot Noir

As a lover of Pinot Noir it’s no surprise that I love the wines of Burgundy. However, given the astronomical cost of good Burgundy and the lack of availability in my region I have had to seek out Pinot from other regions to satiate my thirst. With lots of New Zealand wines on the shelves at a reasonable cost it’s no wonder I’ve been drinking a lot of these wines.

The country’s cool climate and often rolling landscape help provide various styles of Pinot Noir. Many of the best are aromatic, lush and silky while maintaining freshness. While this particular wine is from Marlborough, several other regions produce compelling examples of Pinot Noir, namely: Central Otago Martinborough and Wairarapa. My favourites are usually from Central Otago but Marlborough seems to take precedence on our shelves as top notch Sauvignon Blanc’s from the region often get shipped with that brands respective Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris or Merlot offering.

7791197232_img_8897 This particular wine the 2015 Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir starts off with dark fruit – black cherry and plum – notes with further raspberry, vanilla, clove and forest floor. This is a touch ripe, in my opinion, the wines structure carries this ripeness well but it does have the tendency to make the wine a touch clunky. The wine also appears to be aged in oak with a fair bit of this character showing through on the wide. The oak is well integrated but perhaps just a little judiciously used. I find the wine to be surprisingly a little funky which I wouldn’t expect from a 4 year old wine. The soft tannins and medium acidity provide for a rounded and weighty wine with a good but not exceptional finish. This is a wine that I did quite enjoy despite my personal preference for a more firm, less ripened Pinot. I think this wine would be very much suited to a classic Pinot and duck pairing or perhaps with a mushroom heavy dish.

As I seem to be drinking a lot of the stuff does anyone have any recommendations for New Zealand reds, Pinot Noir particularly?

Cheers,
Ben

 

My Experience With Muscadet

Muscadet was one of the first interesting white wines that I tasted. I cut my teeth drinking wine by sipping on my mother’s Italian Pinot Grigio, which she regularly kept a bottle of in the fridge, she still does in fact. While there was nothing wrong with the wine she drank I found it pretty plain and remember describing it as “lemony” before really getting into wine. It was on a visit to my local liquor store when I was around 20 that I got recommended a Muscadet Sur Lie. I only remember it at the time because I remember not enjoying it. It was way to acidic for me at the time, something I’ve now grown to love. But there was something distinct and interesting about the wine that stuck with me. I now know that this was the minerality in the wine that I enjoyed. In more recent years I’ve had some very pleasant Loire Valley Muscadet wines, as well as wines from some other regions made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The best ones all have that distinct acidity, minerality and lees aging and the worst are simple but still pleasant easy drinking wines.

It seems there’s something of a Renaissance going on in the region with quality improving and more terroir driven wines being crafted in certain areas. This is due in part to the creation of communal crus, namely: Clisson, Gorges and Le Pallet. While these make up only a small part of the region as a whole, with even less being exported some importers are starting to catch on and these top examples can now be found in many major markets in North America. Nevertheless, buyer beware as there’s no shortage of wines being crafted in an easy-drinking simply style that are just alright. The Loire Valley as a whole is an exciting region that is being revitalized and recognized globally with Muscadet just being a small part of the whole picture. Beautiful Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Grolleau amongst other grapes are being grown with great success. In my experience Muscadet has a tendency to get overshadowed by the likes of Chinon, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. One thing is for sure and that’s that it’s a large region and one that I’m hoping to explore more thoroughly in the future. img_3204

The Château La Forchetiere Muscadet Sur Lie 2017 showed good ripeness and not at all austere with lemon, green apple and honeydew melon on the nose and palate. A distinct sea shell minerality and some creaminess from the lees which adds to the weight of the wine. Not as zippy as most Muscadet Sur Lie that I’ve had but I do quite enjoy the wine and it does still display elevated acidity. I always find Muscadet to be a versatile food wine particularly with fish and this one is no exception and given the weight of the wine I would even pair this with poultry, pork, salad, or a roasted vegetable dish. At $16-17 Canadian you really can’t go wrong with the quality and complexity of this wine. Definitely a solid value if perhaps a touch atypical of the style.

Enjoy a good Muscadet? Like the wines of the Loire? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers,
Ben

My New Years Eve Wine and Food

Well it has been a long but enjoyable holiday season filled with family, food and fun. It was also a time when I decided that I would take a break from posting leading up to, and over the holiday season. It has been the longest drought in posting on Instagram in almost two years, it lasted almost six full days. I did this to refresh, to spend time with people I care about and to give myself a little break before I go even harder in 2019.

For New Years I decided to forgo the classic Champagne or sparkling wine this year. If others were indulging I would have as well but it was just me drinking wine so I instead  opened up a really nice bottle of red that I would say is definitely in my top three wines of the year. We were doing a full beef tenderloin for 6 people so this seemed like a no-brainer choice.
IMG_3194
For the appetizer roasted beets with aged 5 Brothers Goat cheese that was topped with a little creme fraiche and a roasted carrot. This was simple to put together and the end result was quite delicious. A great start to the meal.
For the main we went with beef tenderloin that was served with classic sides of caramelized onion, carrots, roasted potatoes and a creme fraiche chive-thyme topper that accompanied all the sides really well and added that New Years richness to the dish. With everything going on I unfortunately overdid the potatoes a little bit but was able to salvage most of them, I wasn’t very pleased but several people had a second serving so I guess they could have been worse.

IMG_3193We had lots of treats and snacks at the ready but I also wanted to try my hand at some baking so ended up making Madeleines which were really tasty. Covered in icing sugar and served with a white chocolate cream I was happy with them for my first batch, albeit they were a touch denser than I’ve had in some fine dining restaurants.

As I had mentioned I went with a red wine for the evening. It was the 2008 Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse. This to me, and according to the Saint-Emilion IMG_3195classification is one of 13 Premiers Grands Crus Classés B wines, with only two Classés A, these being Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc. I was excited to try the wine and was also excited to pick up this wine for only $45. I personally love the 2008 and also the 2006 vintage from the right bank and think that there are some great values to be found there. This is without a doubt one of them, as the wine was singing after about 2 hours in the decanter and drank better than the 2005 Le Dome that I tried a few weeks ago. A wine that is clearly going to be longer lived and improve but one with a 98pt Parker score, which I have included more for a point of reference than as a determination of quality.

The wine poured a dark ruby color and showed blackberry, black cherries, ripe plum, chocolate, graphite, leather and baking spice on the nose. On the palate the wine was firm but perfectly ripe with notes reminiscent of the palate but also with some raspberry and a distinct minerality. The wine has medium-plus acidity, medium-plus tannins that just seemed so well integrated, a medium to medium + body and a moderately long but very complex finish.

IMG_3187

This wine was drinking great right now but I think it could go for maybe another 3-5 years gaining in complexity before it starts to plateau or go over the cliff. I’ve had better wines from Bordeaux, I’ve had better wines from other places but I don’t believe I’ve had a wine this good at this price point before, certainly not recently. I will definitely be looking at another bottle or two to enjoy over the next couple of years!

What did everyone else do for New Years? What were you eating and drinking? I’d love to hear about!

Cheers,
Ben