Pinot envy

Mar. 12th, 2013 10:43 am
chickenfeet: (canada)
Saturday the lemur and I went down to Niagara on a wine tasting/buying trip.  Niagara really falls into two broad subregions; the Beamsville Bench and adjacent areas on the escarpment and the low lying areas near the lake/river in Niagara on the Lake and St.David's.  The former has sloping vineyards with thin clay overlying limestone.  The latter is more alluvial clay and gravel.  Unsurprisingly, aromatic white varietals do well on the limestone while Bordeaux red varietals tend to do better lower down.  Since we can only manage 5 or 6 wineries in a trip and there's a fair bit of actual Bordeaux in the cellar we decided to stay up on the escarpment.  We weremainly looking for Riesling and Gewurz but we also had an eye out for Baco Noir.  It's a hybrid that does very well on the escarpment yielding rather unusual smokey, brambley wines.

We found plenty of excellent wines in the categories we were looking for at Hernder, Henry of Pelham, Staff and 13th Street.  What was more surprising is the number of excellent Pinot Noirs we found.  Pinot ought to do well on the Bench but so often we've found the wines to be dull and insipid.  Not this trip.  We found a number of rather good Pinots and a couple of really excellent ones at Flat Rock.  Their 2009 Reserve is quite the best Pinot I've tasted from outside Burgundy.  Surprisingly perhaps we had no luck with Gamay; 13th Street has been a reliable source in the past, but they did have a really excellent Cab/Merlot.

All in all a successful foray.
chickenfeet: (wine)
Yesterday, following a freezing trip to Niagara Falls, we resumed the Great Hunt for the Gewūrztraminer. We started at Featherstone, since that was where we had last had success. They were out of stock but suggested we try Organised Crime. There is in fact a winery of that name (instead of corks they use Crime Stoppers}. It was a surreal experience. We were 'greeted' by a short expressionless woman with a monotone Slav accent. It went roughly as follows:

Me (cheerily) - We've heard you have good Gewūrztraminer

Her - Is best in Ontario. You want try?

Me - Yes please.

Her - picks up glass which is not as clean as she would like - [Slav snort] My husband, he wash the glasses [Slav snort] Polishes glass some more and pours.

And so it went on.

The wine was good if a little pricey ($22). Genuine Gewurz character; rose petals, lichee, grapefruit peel. Not so much spice. Distinctly off dry. Like a slightly sweeter version of the Pierre Sparr Gewurz. I bought half a case.

They also had a decent cool climate Syrah. Decent stuff but somewhat more than I was willing to pay at $20/bottle.

It's a really weird place and well worth a visit if you are out Beamsville way.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Friday night was housewarming chez [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby and [livejournal.com profile] zingerella. There was food. There was drink. There was shininess and there were two very lovely hosts. Good times. Who knew vegetarians could be so much fun?

Saturday we motored down to Niagara to catch the 13th Street winter release party. It was cold and snowy. This year the food rather outshone the wine which was a bit unfortunate, though given the quality of the nibblies on offer (two kinds of oyster, gravlax, canapes with smoked duck breast, excellent cheeses plus sweet stuff) the wine would have had to be consistently excellent to compete. The stand out wines were the 2005 Cuvée 13 sparkler and the Funk Vineyard Riesling 2007. The sparkler had a quite wonderful mousse and a lovely toasty flavour. The Riesling was already quite 'petrolly' and will develop into something special with a few years bottle age. We then hit Hernder to stock up on cheapies. In this case Baco Noir, Shiraz and Chambourcin plus some very reasonably priced Chardonnay.

Phase 2 was the elusive hunt for Gewűrztraminer. Normally reliable Stoneyridge was out of stock but assured us that the 2008, to be released in the Spring, would be fantastic. They suggested Hillebrand or Konzelmann. The GPS took us there by a quite bizarre route but we got there. The Konzelmann was bland and expensive so we passed. Hillebrand oozed Napa like attitude, didn't have their Gewurz available to taste and was just icky so we had a late lunch and came home. Se were just in time as it turned out as the snow got quite bad almost as soon as we got ome to the extent that taking the car back was a minor adventure. Kinemoopers FTW BTW!

The great Gewűrztraminer (or equivalent) hunt will now move off shore to see if we can locate something that's reasonable value from either Alsace or the southern hemisphere. Whatever the answer is, it isn't Moldovan Pinot Grigio.

Today will be spent mostly indoors as it is -16 with the windchill right now. Brunch may figure somewhere in the plan though, as may a nap, as [livejournal.com profile] pigsnout000, currently somewhere over the Pacific west of Los Angeles arrives at way past my bedtime tonight and I have an 8am meeting tomorrow.

Fast food

May. 20th, 2007 08:02 am
chickenfeet: (fishy)
Fast food doesn't have to be bad food. Dinner last night took about as long to prepare as it would have done to order in pizza. I tossed some cod's tongues (yes they have tongues) in seasoned flour and pan fried them in olive oil. I served them with chopped parsley and lemon wedges with some steamed snow peas on the side. We followed them with two excellent local sheep's milk cheeses. One was soft ripened, the other coated with rosemary and savory in the fashion of Fleur du Maquis. We drank a Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 which was delicious and a very good match for both the fish and the cheese.
chickenfeet: (wildcat)
Today was 13th Street's release event so we toddled off to St. Catherine's this morning. Generally I find 13th Street to be one of the most consistent and reliable of our local producers but today I was disappointed. We tasted two sparklers, two whites and four reds and there was really only one wine that I liked much and even that wasn't quite up to previous years. I was beginning to wonder whether I was suffering from a cold and my palate was off. Still, the 2003 Sandstone Vineyard Gamay Noir is a very pleasant medium to full Gamay and showed far better than its Pinot Noir stablemate. Fortunately the food was as good as ever with really good gravlax and other yummy tidbits.

Having lots of time to spare we dropped in at Marynissen and discovered that it was their open day event too, though we were a little early for it. We tasted what was already open on the tasting bar which served to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with my palate. The 2004 Vidal and Sauvignon Blanc are acceptable quaffers. The Vidal might just be a bit better than that. As usual the reds were the class act. There was a very drinkable 2001 Gamay, an excellent 2001 Cabernet/Merlot that I already have a case of in the cellar so it was good to see that it was developing nicely and a newly bottled 2002 Cabernet Franc. This last was clearly suffering from bottle shock and hadn't really come together but it had all the hallmarks of classic Niagara Franc. It should be really good in three or four years time.

We stuck around for the party; excellent appetisers, a funky band called Accordion Crimes and another two wines to taste. The first was the 2004 Chardonnay whuich was only just bottled and not even labelled yet. It's a 50/50 blend of American and French oak and was showing very well indeed. I see some in my future. The other wine was a 2001 Merlot that has only just been released and has, inexplicably, been refused VQA designation. I don't get it at all as this may be the best Marynissen merlot that I have tasted. Usually I prefer their Cabernets and blends but this had some really intriguing liquorice, mint and lavender notes coming through a solid red fruit core. One might have mistaken it for a Napa or Coonawarra wine. Silly VQA people. Sandra was a bit perturbed by what had happened but seemed happy that at least some of her regular customers liked it.
chickenfeet: (Default)
We were grossly self-indulgent in a simple way on Satrurday night. I made a sour cream. garlic and herb dip which we had with raw veggies and a bottle of 13th Street Funk Vineyard Sparkling Rosé 2002. This is a largely Pinot Noir based wine with a bit of Chardonnay in the blend. It was a glorious salmon colour with a soft mousse and notes of yeast, toast and strawberries. The lemur considered that it was distinctly better than Veuve Cliquot Rosé.

The main even was the cheese. We had a splendidly ripe Époisses, some Montgomery raw milk cheddar and some raw milk Stilton, accompanied by excellent crusty white and pumpernickel breads from Carousel bakery and assorted fruit. The bubbly was pretty much done by this point so I opened a bottle of Marynissen Cabernet/Merlot Reserve 1998. The Époisses was superb; runny, pungent, unctuous, indeed everything an Époisses should be. The wine was very, very good as this one always is. It's medium bodied and perfectly balanced with long black fruit flavours and a touch of cedar. It's reminiscent of what good claret was held to be before that prat Robert Parker started to tell Americans what they ought to drink. Parenthetically, these two wines demonstrate just how good Ontario wines can be, if anybody still had any doubts. The trouble, of course, is that they were never available except at the winery. Indeed 13th Street sells out most of its wines the day they are released. For dessert, the lemur had layered confiture du vieux garçon(1), with sour cream and fresh raspberries. Indulgent but yummy.

We finished the evening with a glass of Warre's Warrior Port and eastern european boozy choccies while watching Donnie Darko. This is a movie probably better watched reasonably sober.

fn1: confiure du vieux garçon - berries and sugar and booze (in this case rye) with vanilla and cinnamon left to mature for a few months.

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