On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Report from - Germany Wine with Jazz - April 2, 2007

06 Apr 2007
Roy Thomson Hall was the scene for the German Wine Fair which is full of producers I can’t pronounce and labels I don’t recognize, and many of which will never see the inside of the LCBO, but it does provide one with a great opportunity to try some of the best white wines in the world.  The event was organized into 25 different tasting tables (some having the designation of an A & B at the same table) and 33 producers … organized for the most part in alphabetical order.  I found my eyes swimming across names like Valckenberg, Reinhartshausen, Kruger- Rumpf and Kupferberg; and mangling wine and label names, not only in my head but when I piped up to try something, I became self-conscious quickly and began to just point and say “that one” a lot.  I find German labels very confusing, now I know the difference between a Kabinett, a Spatlese and an Auslese, but would most consumers?  For that matter could you really taste the difference after so many similar wines?  Here is a small sampling of what we will be seeing on our shores and in our stores that are worth picking up extra marks if you get the pronunciation right:


The A-Z of German Wines:


August Kesseler/Pieroth has a dry and peachy 2005 Riesling that is currently on the LCBO’s general list shelves … a steal at $10.95 (Pieroth 2005 Riesling #23895).


Balthasar Ress’ 2003 Riesling Auslese Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen ($24.95 – May 27 Vintages Release – 375ml) – honey-peach nose, sweet and lush in the mouth with a beautifully long finish.


Deinhard had two wines I was dying to try, their Riesling Piesporter Goldtropfchen and Lila Riesling Brut (sparkling wine), but somehow they got lost in shipping and didn’t make the show.  So a 2005 Beernauslese had to suffice with it’s honey, peach and pear on both the nose and palate.  Look for it later this year in Vintages for around the $20 mark for 375ml.


Gunderloch’s 2005 Riesling Auslese Nackenheim Rothenberg will retail for $49.95 and be available November 24, 2007 … if you’re wondering whether it’s worth fifty bucks I’ll tell you this, then you can decide:  it has a delicious ripe nose of apples and pears with a minimal amount of petrol and minerality in the mouth and that will develop more over time – good sweetness and it all finishes up with a long appley finish … this one has a “yum factor” of 10.


Franz Reh has a general list Gewurztraminer for $11.65 (#622027), which I found a little on the dry side with some slightly spicy and lemony nuances.


In Vintages currently you can find a 2004 Riesling Kabinett Hochheimer Holle Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut ($18.95 - #722413), which has a finish to match its name – long.  Petrol and lanolin notes on the nose, some stone fruit and a touch of sweetness are also present on the more and following through on the taste.


Dr. Loosen himself was on hand to talk about his wines … a rather interesting looking gentleman in his plaid suit, complete with tight fitting waist-coat, a blue and white checked shirt and mismatched tie … but anything from his table was worth trying, absolutely delicious.  I don’t care how he dresses, in this case it is not the clothes that make the man, its’ the wines.  If you can still find the “Dr. L” Riesling it is a great place to start a love affair with the good, if somewhat eccentric, Doctor.  ($13.95 - #599274)


Schloss Reinharthausen has an attractive, eye catching, baby blue label … their wine will also catch the attention of both your nose and mouth totally off-guard.  The 2004 Riesling Kabinett Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen is out Saturday April 14 for a bargain of $18.95 a bottle – crisp with mouth watering acidity and great white fruit flavours … this one is very nice.


June 9th will see the release of St. Urban-Hof’s 2005 Riesling Kabinett Piesporter Goldtropfchen at the ripe price of $20.95 – sweet with some petrol, mineral and lots of fruit flavours to drive it all home.  I could see lying this one down for 5-plus years and letting it develop further.


Ending the tour of tongue twisting German wines A-to-Z is of course Zilliken, Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken to be exact.  With this easy to pronounce and remember 2006 Butterfly Riesling Dry – a soon-to-be-released general list item for $15.95.  This one has quite a zingy, citrus taste that is quite lively and refreshing.

Report from - Churchill Cellars Portfolio Tasting - April 2, 2007

06 Apr 2007
Churchill Cellars puts on quite the spread during their annual portfolio tasting … not just wines, but cheeses, sandwiches and the best little shortbreads I’ve ever tasted (more on that later).  Held in the Barbara Frum Atrium at the CBC building, this invitation only event (you sign up for their newsletter and the invite comes sometime in February) is held annually to let consumers try what Churchill is offering through the LCBO, Vintages, restaurants and on consignment.  This year a few things struck me as great value, good wine and readily available.


Cheap and Cheerful to Darn Good:


The 2006 Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.00 - #603365) is a great red-fruit driven everyday drinker … parties, pizzas, you name it.


Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.90 - #392225) is another great drinker with black fruit, black cherry, cassis and a sweet cherry finish … this one is for more serious parties and patio get togethers.  For your next occasion you could do much worse than bringing Robert with as your date.


Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva was recently released into the LCBO Vintages section ($14.95 - #24679) – raspberry and strawberry throughout the smell and taste – red fruit dominated with a sweet and spicy finish – quite smooth and ready to go; well priced too.

D’Arenberg (from Australia) has become quite the staple on Vintage shelves … the Footbolt Shiraz ($20.95 - #984021) has really good spicy fruit in the glass; if you like your Shiraz with a kick you’ll love the jolt you get from the bolt.


Climbing the price ladder, the just released Ravenswood 2004 Sonoma Old Vines Zinfandel ($28.95 - #673798) has great nutmeg, spice and hints of oregano on the nose with a milk chocolate smooth finish and lots of fruitiness to boot.  I recommend holding onto it for 5 years and see what happens.  Staying with Ravenswood, their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($31.95 - #25213) is black fruit dominated, smooth and lush in the mouth with great sweet fruit through the mid-palate.


The 2003 Simi Merlot ($30.95 - #30759) has spicy black fruit and chocolate tones.  Smooth as silk.  While the pre-Christmas expected 2004 Chateau Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz ($35.00 - #510628) was stellar, with a sweet cherry nose, some mouth-drying tannin along with spicy black fruit and eucalyptus.


My need to finish the day off with something sweet drew me to the Port table where the chocolate, cherry and plum driven Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port [2000] ($16.95 - #613927) was being poured.  This is a total steal for Port lovers.


I promised you a tip on the best shortbread and here it is … Get your hands on ones made by M & G Kitchens.  They were sampling some of the most delicious shortbread I have ever wrapped my mouth around.  They make them in two varieties, which in total encompass 8 flavours:  Sweet and Savoury.  In the Savoury category you can choose from Herbes Provence; Moroccan Spice; Smoked Paprika and Coconut Curry.  My personal favourites were in the Sweet category, where you gets ones like Chai, Chocolate Hazelnut; Buttercrunch Pecan; and an utterly awesome Vanilla.  All are cut into bite sized cutes and go well with a variety of wines.  They may seem a little steep at $8 a box, but well worth it.  To check out where to buy them go to their website www.mgkitchen.ca.

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