Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Don't Look At It As Wine; I Look At It As A Foreign Investment

So! How is it that we ended up with yet more wine? I'd like to quote the famous reason for scaling the peaks of Everest: because it's there! Or, to loosely paraphrase the iconic quote from Field of Dreams, "if I taste it, I will buy."

We took a drive up to The Bench area again to pick up some mead and some wine for my roomie Andrew, as well as to revisit Cornerstone Estates to try their port, which was not available in July. The port was lovely, tawny and warm--perfect for taking the chill off a cold afternoon or relaxing after a long day at The Rock. On our way back to the Q.E.W. (Queen Elizabeth Way highway), we stopped at a winery called Vineland Estates. As soon as we entered, I was a bit put off; it was very large and commercial. I prefer smaller wineries, and this one gave off a very corporate air. But, we were there, so we went up to the tasting bar and a young man named Hayden began to take care of us. He introduced us to the winery and then our tasting began. He was incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating, and at one point he said, "How much do you want to taste? Because I have an idea where I want to take you, but I need to know how to get you there." Oh, that was all I needed to hear! "Hayden," I said, "I'm good for several...oh, quite a few more varieties!"

Basically, I lost count. And it was all gorgeous. Here are the standouts:

Vineland 2007 Dry Riesling: Like biting into a snappy, cool Granny Smith apple. Very young, very drinkable, almost no mineral taste and a perfect acidity. If I had not already bought so much wine in July, I would have bought at least a case of this. A steal at $13.

Vineland 2006 Cabernet-Merlot: Smoky and cedary with just a hint of plum and berry jam in the back and in the bouquet. This is almost like a good Meritage in that it would be a terrific red meat wine. I'm serving it with steak. I was disappointed with all the Meritages I tried after I forgot to pick up another one at Rosewood. This one was a major bargain at $15.

2006 Syrah Reserve: Oh God. I don't drink red often, and when I do, I don't drink the trendy Syrah/Shiraz. But this wine is lovely. The bouquet is of berries and spice, and the wine is velvety but not heavy in the mouth. There is a brisk finish that is fruit-forward, reminiscent of bing cherries, and there is almost no tannic feel. If you're used to Napa or Australian Syrah/Shiraz wines, this one is not so leggy and chewy even though it is 12% alcohol. I cannot believe I spent $40 on it. But actually, Rick did. Holy crap. I know. I know!

(But those prices are in Canadian Money. And the exchange rate is favorable now. So, I'm good!)

The next day we confined ourselves to the NotL wineries: we visited our favorite ones to say hello to friends and finished our friends' (and a certain son's) shopping lists, and then we had to scope out the newest winery in town that had mystified and intrigued the locals and sparked a ton of gossip. That winery was Southbrook, also known as The Wall.

Southbrook looks pretty avant garde for NotL--it resides within a massive purple wall that stretches well past both ends of its building proper. No one can figure out if it has a real purpose, but as far as I can tell, it's basically there for "art." By the time we rolled up on Southbrook, Rick and I had both had plenty of wine, but we had to satisfy our curiosity. So, we decided to get a good look at The Wall and limit ourselves to their specialty, the fruit wines. Southbrook makes four of them, cassis (blackcurrant), blueberry, blackberry, and framboise (raspberry). These wines are so concentrated in flavor and so pungent that they are almost more like liqueurs, except that they are not syrupy or cloyingly sweet. Of the four, we bought the blackberry and the framboise, which I found to be the most flavorful and to have the most fruit at the finish. The cassis--and I love blackcurrant--was disappointing at the end. The flavor simply faded away after the swallow. No punch. I am no fan of blueberries, but that variety had the same failing. Each elegant looking bottle is $15.75.

Don't those wines all sound tempting and gorgeous? And with the U.S. dollar doing so much better now, really, I was smart to buy more wine at this time.


  1. I love how you rationalize your purchases :) Let me know when you're going to dive into the Cabernet-Merlot or Syrah Reserve...I'm so there!

  2. Everythings sounds great! Niagara-On-The-Lake really needs to start paying you!

    I don't think that you can really have too much wine, because even if you can't drink all of it, you can cook and bake with it and give it away as gifts. So actually, you may need to go buy some more. : )

  3. anali--I know! I hate to cook or bake with these wines, though, because they are so gorgeous to drink. But, that's always an option.

    nina--i take it you prefer the reds. i have to be careful with them because they can occasionally spike a migraine for me. my motto is: never go to bed on a red. if i can drink it early enough and get some food in me, i'm usually okay. i'll try to save a red for when you're back on the booze.

  4. Wine is always a solid investment - you never hear about wine losing so much value that the government has to bail out the wineries.

  5. Yes, you are the great rationalizer! Love it! (Note: This skill might not be one to teach to your students ... or, perhaps, if you do, they must only use it outside your classroom. LOL)

    I love reading your wine reviews, Nance. I don't even have to drink the wine. ;-) I feel like I did when I used to read the Washington Post food critic's reviews years ago. I knew I would never get to those restaurants, but I enjoyed experiencing the food through her words more than if I'd actually gotten to enjoy it myself I think.

  6. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Oh, Nance. In my world it's never NOT a good time to buy wine.

  7. al--LOL. I hear ya.

    shirley--i love reading restaurant reviews for that same reason. it also gives me great cooking ideas. thanks.

    mikey--and doesn't alcohol-based industry flourish during hard times?

  8. Why Nance...thanks for this post!!! I DO love sample days at the Liquor store where they have wines to taste from miles around!!! I rather like the "Bitch" which is a Merlot :)


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