New Review: Yangarra Estate Vineyard 2012 McLaren Vale Old Vine Grenache

I have a wine problem!

I’ve fallen into a tendency lately to focus on only a few select wine regions when it comes to tasting, buying or drinking wine. When reviewing my tasting notes from the last couple of months I noticed this trend. A quick peek in the cellar confirmed my suspicion.

Perhaps calling it a problem is not accurate, but it is a concern. If you limit yourself to wine from only certain areas, you run the risk of missing out on some potentially great wine being produced elsewhere.

A perfect example of this is the 2012 Old Vine Grenache from Yangarra Estate Vineyard from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia. I don’t tend to drink a lot of wine from Australia not because it’s not good, but just because it’s not a region I tend to think of.

So when I got the chance to sample some of this wine a while  back I jumped at the opportunity. This was possible a chance to add a new wine and a new region to my repertoire. I was impressed enough with I had tasted to pick up a bottle to bring home with me.

Yangarra Estate Vineyard - 2012 McLaren Vale Grenache

 

Yangarra Estate Vineyard.

The winery is in the McLaren Vale region which is located on the southern tip of South Australia near the city of Adelaide. It sits on the eastern side of the Gulf St. Vincent and tends to benefit from a Mediterranean style climate with abundant sunshine and cool evening breezes.

The first vines were planted in the vineyard in 1946 and originally the grapes grown were used by local winemakers to beef up local wines from surrounding wineries.
In 2000 the vineyard was purchased by Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke (Jackson Family Wines proprietors) and they began the process of developing the vineyard into what it is today.

The vineyard encompasses 100 hectares and is divided into 35 individual blocks. Currently, plantings include Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro, and Carignan, and white grapes such as Roussanne and Viognier.

The Old Vine Grenache vines are located along the western side of the vineyard, in sandy soil with a layer of clay underneath. The sandy top soil acts as a reflector for the daytime heat but also releases heat captured during the day in the evening.

The vines are freestanding, with no support system or wires, allowing the fruit to spread out evenly and to allow greater airflow.

In keeping with a desire for quality, the grapes are handpicked and received via a belt elevator. They are then destemmed and sorted, the tubs of whole berries are tipped into open fermenters in an effort to avoid maceration.

The grapes are cold soaked for up to 6 days and allowed to undergo wild fermentation. Finally, the wine is put into old French barrels for 12 months prior to blending.

2012 Old Vine Grenache

Right off the bat, the first thing you notice is the color of this wine, a deep burgundy color with just a slight ruby rim. Upon the first pour, you notice right away aromas of cherry which slowly give way to notes of plum and bay leaf. After the wine had a chance to breathe the cherry notes started to change to almost a black cherry like aromas. Also, the bay leaf faded to the background and was replaced by a slight leathery note.

Red Wine

Taking the first sip, I noticed right away a significant acidity to the wine, it had quite a mouth puckering effect with a somewhat tannic almost harsh finish. I let the wine sit for about 15 mins before I tried it again and that had a significant effect on it. That initial acidity was replaced with a smoother almost velvety feel in the mouth and was able to pick up some flavors of white pepper, blackberry and plum.

The longer the wine sat the better it got, that original harshness faded and the flavors and aroma really started to open up. This is definitely a wine that will benefit from a good long decanting, allow it to breathe and mellow before serving.

All in all, this was a good wine and I quite enjoyed it. It might even get me to take a peek down that Australia aisle once in a while.

Cheers,

LB

Review: Fox Run 2012 Lemberger

One of the blogs that I routinely look forward to reading is pop & pour, written by local wine aficionado Peter Vetsch.  I first came across Peter on Twitter and was quick to check out his blog,  becoming an instant follower.

When it comes to the world of wine I still consider myself quite an amateur, so it’s great when I can look to others as valuable sources of information. In Peters’ case I appreciate the fact I get exposure to wines I might not otherwise get.

Case in point Peter recently wrote a number of posts regarding wines and vineyards in the Finger Lakes area of New York. I had heard of the Finger Lakes area earlier this year on a podcast, but really had no idea what the region had to offer.

So one night last week I just happened to be killing some time before an appointment and wandered in to the Kensington Wine Market to have a look around. As I’m walking down one the aisles, a label catches my eye. A black label, with the works “Fox Run” printed on them. Something about the name stuck in my head and then it came to me. That was one of the vineyards and wines that Peter had just written about. It was decided, I had to try the wine.

Fox Run Vineyards 2012 Lemberger

Fox Run 2012 Lemberger

I really had no idea what to expect with this wine. As I mentioned earlier I was not familiar with the area or this grape variety so I decided to do some research. The grape variety is very common through central Europe, in countries such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia. The common name for this grape is Blaufränkisch, but is known by other names depending on the country. In the US, the grape is referred to as Lemberger, and is primarily grown in Idaho, Washington, and the Finger Lakes.

Fox Run Vineyards, got its start as a dairy farm, but began planting grapes in 1984.  In 1990 the farm was converted into a winemaking facility with further renovations being done in 1996. The winery is a family run vineyard and prides itself on its philosophy of low impact agriculture.

In addition to Lemberger, it also produces Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir.

I was nervous opening the bottle, I just wasn’t sure what to expect. Interestingly enough as soon as I opened it the first thing that struck me was a strong note sweet almost overripe fruit. I was actually a little concerned that perhaps there was something wrong with the wine. However, I decanted it and let it sit for a couple of hours.

When I went back to the wine that aroma of overripe fruit had really dissipated and in its place was the spicy note of black pepper. Once poured into a glass, I was able to also note the aroma of blackberry and what I thought was blackcurrant.

In the glass the wine showed a striking ruby colour with a slightly less vivid rim. On the tongue I was struck by the contrast the wine presented. The body was densely complex  yet very soft and mellow all at the same time, with a wonderful full body.

FoxRun_Lemberger_02

The black pepper aroma carried over into the flavour of the wine, giving it a delicious hint of spice. I noted just a slight hint of fruit on the tongue, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. There was also a real herbal note to the wine, almost like basil or tarragon that really provided a wonderful savoury finish.

At the end of the day I was very impressed with this wine, deep and complex but easy to drink. It paired amazingly well with a rib eye but continued to drink well even after dinner was finished. Based on this experience I can’t wait to try some of the vineyards’ other varieties. Well worth the money spent.

Cheers,

LB

Notes: 

  • Winery: Fox Run Vineyards
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Grape: Lemberger
  • Region: Finger Lakes, NY
  • Country: United States
  • Nose: Black pepper, blackberry, black currant
  • Taste: Black pepper, herbal (basil, tarragon), berries
  • Purchased: Kensington Wine Market
  • Price: $29.99

 

Arrowleaf – 2013 Pinot Noir

Sitting in the office one day and I get a text message from a friend of mine. He and the wife are out in Kelowna for the fall wine festival and he’s raving about the Pinot Noir from Arrowleaf winery. Says that I will absolutely love it and asks if I want him to pick up a bottle for me. Being the Pinot Noir fan that I am it wasn’t a difficult decision to make, of course I wanted a bottle.

That was the first time I had their Pinot Noir and I was instantly hooked. It can be hard to find in stores here in Calgary so I’m always happy whenever I can get my hands on a couple of bottles.

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Arrowleaf Cellars is located on Okanagan Lake just north of Kelowna in British Columbia and consists of four separate vineyards.  It’s a family run winery, owned and operated by Joe and Margrit Zuppiger and their son Manuel. They proudly opened their doors for business in the spring of 2003.

They offer a blended line of wine called First Crush, but it’s their Arrowleaf and their Solstice line that really stand out. The Arrowleaf line is their varietal wine and includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Bacchus, and others. Their Solstice wines are made from the best grapes from a vintage and if they are not of a high enough quality they won’t make a Solstice vintage that year.

This time around I pulled a 2013 Pinot Noir from the cellar and it still doesn’t disappoint.AL_002 It has a well structured body with low tannins and a medium low acidity. I found it light enough to enjoy on its own but that it and stood up to food very well. On this night I paired it with a tossed salad and a chicken quesadilla. I noted a light ruby colour that was semi transparent.

Right away I noticed aromas of black cherry, raspberry and cedar. There was just a very slight floral hint on the nose but I wasn’t able to determine any particular aroma.

On the palate I found flavours of blackberry, tobacco, and just a slight note of liquorice. The first glass that I poured was nicely chilled (18º C) but as the wine warmed up the flavours started to mute slightly. This is definitely a wine best served with a slight chill to it.

I’m quite fond of this wine, for me it’s a very good Pinot Noir and is one I come back to again and again. I have a bottle of their Solstice Pinot Noir in the cellar and I’ve been saving that for the right time. I’m quite anxious to open that up and compare it to their Arrowleaf Pinot Noir.

Cheers,

LB

Notes: 

  • Winery: Arrowleaf Cellars
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Grape: Pinot Noir
  • Region: Okanagan Lake
  • Country: Canada
  • Nose: Black Cherry, Raspberry, Cedar, Floral hints
  • Taste: Blackberry, Tobacco, Liquorice
  • Purchased: Winery
  • Price: $18.00

Crossing bridges through food & wine.

I’m on the hunt for something comfortable. I’m not complaining but after everything I’ve eaten over the last month, I’m in need of some comfort food. Something hearty, simple, and something that will just make you feel warm and comfortable.

I think a big dish of Shepard’s Pie should do the trick just nicely. It’s a great meal for a cold winter day and it gives us plenty of leftovers for the freezer.

A quick glance in the fridge confirms that I have most of the ingredients that I need, but I do need some potatoes which means a quick trip to the store. Which also means the perfect excuse for a quick visit to the local wine store next door.

The recipe I use for my Shepard’s Pie calls for 1/4 cup of Red Wine. Now I have wine at home but I figure why open an existing bottle when I can buy a new one. A quick chat with the proprietor about what I’m looking for results in a recommendation of 2014 Racine Pinot Noir.

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It wasn’t till I got home and opened up the wine that it struck me. I was using a French wine in an typically English Dish. I kind of felt like I was doing my part to improve relations between the two countries.

Once I tasted it I realized this was by far one of the most interesting Pinot Noir’s I’ve ever had. What really struck me with this wine was the body. At first the body seemed to very similar to most Pinot Noir’s. It was light with some notes of ripe fruit and low sweetness. It was very clean and drank very well with low tannins.

This is what I derived from the first glass that I had while I was preparing the dish. However once the dish was done and we sat down to eat, I poured myself another glass and to my amazement the wine changed.

Once paired with food the body seemed to grow and become fuller more developed. I still picked up on the ripe fruit in the flavour but I noticed a subtle earthiness that had developed.

On the nose I picked up ripe fruit like raspberry and strawberry along with just a hint of pepper. The nose on this wine was very subtle as first but slowly came forward.

In regards to taste I noted black berry and cherry along with a slight candy taste. My first thought was almost like black liquorice. The flavour wasn’t sweet like candy but more like the mouth feel you get after eating several pieces of candy. I had to admit this candy taste still bugs me, I would be very curious to see if anyone else notes this.

The colour of the wine really intrigued me. It had a very ruby colour in the glass however if you tipped the glass and if the light shone at the right angle the depth changed. RPN_01The rim lightened considerably and became very pale and translucent.

I’ve seen this other wines but for some reason this time it stuck with me. I couldn’t place it a first but then it eventually came to me. It reminded me of the fruit juice we drank as kids specifically cherry or raspberry. That tall glass of red liquid that looked like the colour of it’s fruit namesake but that had a certain translucence to it. I can distinctly remember as a kid holding up the glass of juice and being amazed that I could see through it.

I will freely admit that this could simply have been the lights in my kitchen playing a trick on me but I found it interesting.

I really liked this wine and at $22.00 thought it was an excellent value. I definitely can see a few more bottles of this ending up in my cellar.

 

Notes: 

  • Winery: Racine
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Grape: Pinot Noir
  • Region: Languedoc
  • Country: France
  • Nose: Ripe fruit, pepper
  • Taste: Black berry, cherry, red liquorice
  • Purchased: VR Wine
  • Price: $22.00

Cheers,

A Wine fit for a Time Lord

What to drink for a Dr. Who marathon?

I found myself in a unique situation the other night. My wife had gone out for the evening which meant I was free to indulge in the dozen or so episodes of Dr. Who I had recorded.

The only question was what to drink, what goes with freedom and Time Lords? The obvious choice is a 2013 Cabernet Franc from Vineland Estates. 

VE_CabFranc_01

 

The first time I tried this wine was trip to Ontario in 2014. My wife’s cousin has very graciously offered to tour us around the Niagara region for the day and I had just finished reading an article on this particular winery.

We stopped into the winery and decided to do a tasting while we were there. The Cabernet Franc happened to be on my choices for tasting that day.

The first thing I noticed about this wine was the colour, it was a deep ruby, almost purple. On the nose right away I picked up black fruit aromas such as blackberry or cherry, with some mild notes of cedar and tobacco. Tasting the wine I noted some raspberry flavours along with a slight pepperiness.

What really stood out for me was the easy drinking nature of the wine. There was definitely enough body in the wine to stand up to food, but was light enough to enjoy on it’s own.

VE_CabFranc_02

During our time at Vineland Estates, I also went on to taste their Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Semi Dry Riesling, and Game Changer Rose. Each wine was excellent. The whites were crisp and vibrant with great acidity and the Pinot Meunier was also very vibrant and fresh.

The winery itself is a in beautiful building and both my wife and I were very impressed with the staff in the tasting room. During our tasting the server looking after us overhead us talking about if we purchased a case how would we get it home. She mentioned that if we wanted a case they would box it up and mail it to our door step. She even went as far as to say she would personally box up our wine and get it ready for shipment and reassured us that it would arrive safe and sound.

True to  her word a week after we returned home there a big brown box with all of our new found treasures. Since that day we have ordered from them on several other occasions and they have always delivered with great wine and great customer service.

If you get the chance I would highly recommend trying any of their wines I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Notes: 

  • Winery: Vineland Estates Winery
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Grape: Cabernet Franc
  • Region: VQA Niagara Peninsula
  • Nose: blackberry, black cherry, cedar, tobacco
  • Taste: raspberry, pepper
  • Purchased: VR Wine ($23.00)

 

Cheers,