Category: Wine

Naked Grape Shiraz

Naked Grape Shiraz

I picked up this rather oddly named Shitaz at our local Beer and Wine Store here in Iqaluit, which, I have mentioned before, does not have a huge selection. When I got the bottle home, I saw that label describes it as being ‘unoaked’ which I am guessing give rise to the name, possibly? Anyway, it was a bit sweet for my taste, but if you like sweetish wines, you may want to give it a try…

  • Winery:  Arterra Wines Canada, Inc
  • Price: $10.25 at LCBO (I forgot to record the local price)
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Sugars: 10 g/L

This wine has no vintage on the label and is listed as having been released in 2015. It is a fairly dark cherry red with a slight bluish tint and very clear. The nose is a little muted and has a very nice dominant quality of blackcurrant. There are also notes of grass, bubblegum and just a little spice. It is medium bodied with a smooth mouth feel and a sweetness that would be almost to the point of cloying but for a fairly high acidity that offsets this a bit. It is very fruity, without much in the way of tannins, and is a bit bluntly overdone in overall flavor effect. The fruitiness has a rather artificial quality with candy cotton notes, but there are some grassy, and peppery notes that save it from being too one dimensional. Not bad but not especially good either. My three star rating is a bit grudgingly given.

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2014

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2014

Anybody over the age of about 40, or so, will probably remember those ubiquitous empty flasks of Chianti that often doubled as ‘stylish’ candle holders, not only in Bohemian apartments, but even in some Italian restaurants. What is chic and stylish in one age, however, can become tacky later, and it is unfortunate that this change in attitude towards the practice managed to attach itself to Chianti wine as a whole. In fact, these Sangiovese varietal based group of wines from Tuscany, can vary from very rough and rustic ‘jug’ wines to some complex and deservedly acclaimed products. Today’s selection, from the Chianti Classico DOCG (as opposed to the much broader, plain Chianti DOCG), is pretty decent, but, IMHO, probably not entirely worth its relatively steep price tag…

  • Winery: Isole e Olena SRL
  • Price: $31.75 CDN
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • Sugar: 1.9 g/L

The primary varietal, Sangiovese, makes up 80% of the blend with Canaiolo and Syrah included at 15% and 5% respectively. The color is a medium dark raspberry and just a shade less than crystal clear. There is some red fruit on the rather muted nose but it is almost matched by a rather vegetal quality with some woody notes. The body is quite light but decently smooth and the first impact is a very robust, tart acidity that falls off gradually through the middle. It is quite dry and the tannins, almost unnoticeable at the start, develop a little later on but remain as more of a background effect against the acid. The dominant taste is tart red fruit. The vegetal quality of the nose is apparent as well but to a far lesser degree and the one note that saves the overall effect from being a bit too sharp is a very lovely combination of oak and cedar the rises near the beginning and lasts almost through the entire finish. I like it well enough, but I gave it a 3 star rather than a 4 star rating is I didn’t think the quality justified the price.

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2014

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2014

The Shiraz varietal is the most widely used in the Australian wine industry, for reds at least… Shiraz is generally regarded as being the same as Syrah (by which name it is known in France) while some say that the grape, especially in Australia, has evolved it’s own characteristics such as to merit it being treated as a new varietal. However you look at it, Australia has done wonders with this particular grape type and the wine featured today is a very decent representative of the class…

  • Winery: Wyndham Estate Winery
  • Price: $16.65 CDN
  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • Sugar: 6 g/L

The color is a very pretty dark cherry red with a very slight purplish tint. The nose is quite aromatic with red fruit, particularly cherry dominating, and there are some very faint notes of dusty, dried grass and flowers in the background. It is moderately full bodied with a smooth texture and surprisingly both dry and tart for the sugar quotient. The acidity is moderate to high and the tannins very robust but smooth. It is nicely fruity with dark plum and cherry, and there is a just a hint of peach, banana, and even tangerine. A vegetal quality surfaces ever so slightly in the middle and then is rounded out with a bit of pepper and spice in the decently long  finish. This particular Shiraz is very reasonably priced and worth buying to have on hand.

Niagara Estate Iniskillin 2014

Niagara Estate Iniskillin 2014

My database of wine tasting notes includes almost no entries with a 1 star rating… that particular score is pretty much reserved for wines that are undrinkable. Two stars, in contrast, means that a wine is capable of being imbibed without too much agony, but which is not generally worth the money. I don’t give that rating very often either, as it happens, but, unfortunately, that is how I felt about today’s selection. Your mileage may vary…

  • Winery: Iniskillin Wines Inc.
  • Price: $16.60 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 3.7 g/L

The color is a medium light ruby and the nose is a muted, but still aromatic, red berry with a little oak and a faint vegetal quality underneath. It is quite light bodied, with moderate to low acidity and little in the way of tannins. The aromatic berries on the nose really don’t come through much in the mouth and there is a forest-floor effect along with a distant hint of dried flowers. The overall effect is a bit flat, except for a tease of spice at the very end, and there is a vague ‘over-cooked’ quality here and there. This would be fine for cooking but I wouldn’t buy it for drinking again.

Errazuriz Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Errazuriz Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is another selection from the wine and beer store recently opened here in Iqaluit (and the very first in the whole territory). The range of wines available isn’t huge but, some of them, as is the case with this one, are pretty decent…

  • Winery: Vina Errazuriz SA
  • Price: $13.55 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 2.4 g/L

This wine is a very dark almost inky ruby in color and has a vibrantly fruity nose with strong raspberry up front, along with a faint hint of vanilla. It is off-dry with mild acidity and smooth tannins that only become pronounced at the end. The fruit is less vibrant in the mouth than on the nose and there is a vegetal quality and some peppery spice. Plum comes through more strongly than the raspberry and there are oaky notes just near the end. The beginning is very nice but it does not round out as well as expected and the finish is a bit short. Of note, though I sampled this a second time the following day with a supper of spicy squid rings. The wine did not overwhelm the squid at all and the squid allowed for a very interesting blackcurrant component to come through that was not apparent before.It isn’t exactly a great wine but still worth buying to have on hand for those who like robust, rather rustic reds.

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2007

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2007

Just after purchasing this, I saw that the price for the 2016 vintage in Quebec was a little over $19, which made the $17 price tag for the 2007 here in Iqaluit a little suspect. My first thought was that 2007 must have been a particularly bad year and it was being sold off cheaply but, happily, I turned out to be wrong…

  • Winery: E. Guigal
  • Price: $16.97 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar: 2 g/L

The primary grape in this Cotes du Rhone is Viognier, but it is blended with the Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc varietals. The color is a darkish amber but, it can have a slight greenish cast in certain light. There is rich fall fruit and some wood on the nose with a hint of banana and honey. It is quite full bodied, with a very smooth, very nearly buttery texture, and is off-dry with a pleasing acidity that falls just short of being crisp. Rich honey and slightly tart golden apple dominate, and there are floral and woody notes along with a very pleasing background note of sweet fennel. It is a very well balanced wine and excellent value. I bought six additional bottles after my first but now, sadly, there is no more to be had. Shame …

Mission Hill 5 Vineyards 2014

Mission Hill 5 Vineyards 2014

This Pinot Noir is produced in the Okanagan Valley VQA (Vintner’s Quality Alliance), which is the British Columbia appelation of origin regime. It means that 100% of the grape within the wine in question is grown where indicated on the label. Ontario also has a similar VQA naming system as well. I purchased this bottle at the recently opened wine and beer store here in Iqaluit and was generally pleased with it.

  • Winery:  Mission Hill Vineyards Inc.
  • Price: $17.95 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.8%
  • Sugar: 5 g/L

The color of this Pinot Noir is a rather washed out cherry with a slightly less than 100% clarity. The nose is dominated by bright red fruit with an almost jam-like, candied quality, but there is slightly earthy and vegetal undercurrent plus a faint spicy highlight. The body is medium with a smooth texture and the effect is quite dry. The acidity is medium, the tannins understated, and the balance is pretty well-rounded. Red fruit, slightly tart, provide the carrier, and there are notes of jam, leather, and  grass. Overall, it is just a bit rough, but still eminently drinkable.

Domaine Chasselay Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois 2013

Domaine Chasselay Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois 2013

Today’s post features one of the ‘Crus de Beaujolais’, this one, more specifically, from the Fleurie AOC. It isn’t spectacular, by any means, but it is still very good, and, in particular, it presents a good illustration of the slight banana aroma and taste that can arise from the carbonic maceration method of fermentation employed in the production of Beaujolais reds.

  • Winery: Claire et Fabien Chasselay
  • Price: $25.95 CDN
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • Sugar: 2.2 g/L

This particular Beaujolais is a very dark, almost opaque, purplish-ruby. The nose is rich with cherry, along with some floral notes and a faint hint of banana. It is fairly dry with moderately strong acidity and moderate tannins developing more fully towards the end. It has a sour red fruit base in the mouth, with perfume and woody flavors, a little tobacco, and a slight earthiness at the finish. It is a bit tart, but still with a well-rounded effect.  Overall it is a pleasant little wine.

Domaine Billard Père et Fils Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2015

Domaine Billard Père et Fils Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2015

Today’s choice is Burgundy from the Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune AOC. It is a little pricey, and rather unusual, but still very good.

  • Winery: Domaine Billard Père et Fils
  • Price: $25.15 CDN
  • Alcohol: 12%
  • Sugar: 2.1 g/L

This wine has a pale ruby color and I noted a very slight effervescence on decanting. There is dark berry on the nose, along with a woody, earthy quality and faint notes of flowers and spice. It has a medium body, with a pleasantly smooth texture, and the tannins and acidity both in the low-moderate range. The latter is very indistinct at the start but develops more fully towards the end. A slightly tart base of red berry is overlaid with a definite taste of orange blossom and tea, and there is also a mild spiciness with a hint of leather. Overall, the combination of flavors is quite offbeat but very pleasing.

Coste Della Plaie Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012

Coste Della Plaie Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2012

The Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC lies in the Abruzzi region and features wines produced using the Montepulciano varietal. One should be careful not to confuse them with those of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG in Tuscany which are Sangiovese based.

Generally, these wines are very moderately priced. They are, in large measure, somewhat rustic in a rough and ready sort of way, but mostly pretty good sipping wines that stand up well to hearty foods. This particular selection, though a bit more expensive than many, is a decent representative of the type…

The pertinent details are:

  • Winery: Podere Castorani SRL
  • Price: $21.55 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 4.3 g/L

The color here is a dark cherry red that is very attractive but, unfortunately, of teeth-staining strength,. It has a medium nose with red berry, candied fruit and a bit of spice, while the body is full with a velvety texture. It is off dry with some residual sweetness, moderate acidity and smooth tannins that develop into a nice astringency near the end.  Slightly tart red fruit forms the base and there are strong notes of pepper and an earthy, vegetal quality. The finish is a bit short but ends with a really nice tobacco note. All in all, it is pleasing and eminently drinkable.