Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Warm as Ice

We get together with the WRXers regularly, sharing fine dinners and good wines.  More often than not, they put on the food, and SWMBO and I put up the bottles.  It’s the natural thing to do.  It’s not a matter of building up credits, or paying back, but the WRXers have had a special little sweetie in store, which was a gift from a kindred snow sports spirit.  They’ve had it for a number of years, waiting for the right occasion, and they deemed it right at a dinner with the Westies up the road.  They felt it was a good time to share something to cement the friendships forged. 
The wine in question for such a heartfelt and warming time was a 2004 Henry of Pelham Niagra Peninsula Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.  Such things are rather rare in this country, and even though they are the national vinous treasure of Canada, they are relatively rare (and expensive) there too.  And even more so, an ice wine from red grapes.  Bottled in a 200 ml bottle, which was frosted, so it looked cold, even when not.

Our first thoughts were that it was savoury and developed, maybe just a tad too much.  Brown fruits and spices with earth and meat, rather than bright red fruit.  Very sweet and racy, racy acidity to match the lusciousness.  Hardly any tannin grip to speak of, but the red wine skins and presence certainly showing.  Then as the wine warmed up from its icy cold presentation, it begun to show caramel and toffee, not too dissimilar to burnished and bottle-aged botrytised white wines.  The colour, which we thought was more red than white initially, could be interpreted as a white!  This turned out to be a most thought-provoking wine!  Thanks WRXers for making ice so warm.   

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hidden Personality

It can take a while for one’s true personality to emerge.  As the exuberance of youth slowly quietens, the heart and core emerge to take control and define the character.  So it is with many wines.  With a visit by the I-Spy Man, SWMBO and I found something of interest from the cellar.

We’d held onto the 2007 Escarpment ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Pinot Noir for some time.  When it was first released, it was a strong wine, with an impenetrable black-red colour, and powerful and concentrated aromas and flavours.  It had bold dark red and black fruits and layers of earth and dried herb interest in support.  The structure was massive, with fulsome tannins, almost blocky, but balanced by the fruit richness.  This was classic low yield, high skin to juice in the berry ratio wine.  And it had all the signs of aging very well.

Here, the extraction from the skins dominated the wine.  The question was: did the fruit ripen to a sufficient level?  Were the stalks and stems lignified?  Some doubts may have lurked, and now with some time in bottle, that can be answered, as the raw and bold primary fruitiness has begun to give way to developing secondary expression.  With the savoury undergrowth and mushroom interest, as well as the black fruits, an edge of herbaceous has begun to show.  It adds to the interest, and whether it detracts is to some degree subjective. 
Maybe the fruit didn’t quite get to the desired level of ripeness.  This may have been a function of young vines, this being the fifth crop.  That herbaceous line was hidden by the power and extract of the black fruit, and it has taken until now to be manifest.  Holistically, this was still a very good wine, with real personality and different facets.  It made a great match with the strong and meaty meal.  And it is part of the growth of this label.