23 Jul 2014

Wine Review - 2011 Luckett Vineyards Phone Box Red: Local Luscious Red Wine

Phone Box Red
Luckett Vineyards Phone Box Red
We were able to pick this wine up at Pete's Frootique in Wolfville last summer when they received permission from the NSLC to sell some of the Luckett Vineyards stock in store.

We have had the wine before but it was interesting to see the value of hanging on it for an extra year.  The wine has a mixture of the following grapes Lucie Kuhlmann, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, and Triomphe. The label speaks of having some dried grapes in the mix of this blend wine which is a fantastic idea for wines here in Nova Scotia.  We do not to a lot of vinifera grapes (i.e. Cab Sauv, Merlot, and the like) so our cool climate hybrid red grapes tend to suffer from thinness and astringency at times.  Some are really great but when you treat them to a bit of the appassimento treatment (think Amarone) you get a bit more richness and bodied from concentrating the juice and the flavours.  In proper balance and economic value it really could work for our cool climate as a marketable way to give our red wines the boost they sometimes need.

When you pour the wine it show immediately of a deep and dark red colour which truly makes it a nice looking wine.  On the swirl it shows as medium bodied which makes sense with the style of the wine.  Overall a nice looking at wine and darker than we might have otherwise expected.

The nose is strong with vanilla which confirms the fact that this wine spent some time in American oak.  It is really nice to have that familiar and pungent scent of oak on the wine.  Beyond that the fruit speaks of cranberry juice and tart cherries and maybe even a hint of spicy cayenne in there.  Very nice.

The wine has a tangy nature as part of mouthfeel.  It's more than tart but not at all bitter.  The beauty of the wine is that there are some sweet notes in there that really round out the taste.  We'd call it a combination of balsamic vinegar and sugar plums.  Nice especially that it comes from Nova Scotia where we are more known for our Sparkling wines and off-dry crisp acidic whites.

   Tasting Notes: Score:
Sight (0-5) Deep and dark wine with a medium body on the swirl 4.0
Smell (0-5) Great nose of vanilla and cherries with a touch of cayenne 4.25
Taste (0-10) Tangy on the palate to the point of having balsamic vinegar notes wrapped around sugar plums. Nice. 8.0
  Total: 16.5 / 20 (81.25%)

At $20 this comes in at a typical price point for a Nova Scotia wine and it doesn't disappoint.  If you have never been to the winery itself we highly recommend a visit as it has a spectacular view of the Gaspereau Valley down to the Minas Basin.  We also have the Phone Box white we will be trying shortly so stay tuned for that as well.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon

9 Jul 2014

Homemade Wine Review: Decent Rhone Blend GSM

We recently threw a family party and a friend of Shannon's parents brought a bottle of homemade wine that she said her friend Betty and her father made and they wanted an opinion from "A Professional".

After that kind of introduction how could we say no.  While we may debate Betty's take on us being professionals, we figured we'd give it a taste and give an honest opinion on the wine.

So, Betty and Betty's Dad, here it is our honest opinion:

This wine is a Grenache - Syrah - Mourvedre Rhone blend produced by WineExpert during their annual Selection release which is a limited edition release for their kits.  We made a Douro Tinto a couple of years ago that we have a few bottles kicking around and it was excellent.  So, the quality of the juice is there.

The wine looks like a Rhone blend, which skews slightly to the lighter side of things, call it medium bodied.  Rhone wines are known for their elegant nature and that includes not being as heavy as your Bordeaux blends might be.  This wine looks great and it was cleared and fined nicely.

The nose on this wine is where the homemade nature kicks in.  It has that familiar funky homemade wine nose that comes with the territory.  It takes a lot to get that nose to dissipate but mostly it just takes time.  It is not bad per se but a tell-tale sign of a homemade kit wine.  Somewhere between barnyard and BO, homemade wine is so much better when it's gone.  Basically all of our kits have had this smell for a significant period of time before it went away.  If we tried this wine in 6 to 12 months we bet it's better.  While that dominates the nose you can still get the fruity nature of the blend and it has an almost perfumed smell in there.  Not bad.

The flavours on the wine are really nice, it tastes great.  Strawberries and raspberries are followed by almost a nutty mid-palate that finishes tart and a little thin.  Overall, not too shabby.  It really tastes good and in a year I bet it will be awesome and rival some of the GSM's you might find in the liquor store.  Until then put it in a box in a dark part of the basement and come back and try a bottle every few months.  It might not take a year to get there.

So, the final verdict is....well done.  We aren't going to score it other than to say you get an A for effort.  We would be proud if that came out of our carboys.  Keep up the good work.

Hopefully that was the feedback you were looking for Betty.  All the best to you and your Dad.

Our next kit will probably be one that is a higher percentage of juice or has actual grapes in the kit.  We are finding that the difference in quality that you get at the higher price point is totally worth it, so we are going to spend a bit more next time.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon

5 Jul 2014

Wine Review - 2012 Umani Ronchi Exclamation Point Sangiovese: Better Than Average Chianti (P)

We were kindly provided this wine by local wine agent Mer et Soleil.  Celinda from Mer et Soleil gave us a few selections from Italy to try and this was our first selection from the group.  At $14 locally we figured it was a nice price point.

As a point of reference we use the term Chianti and Sangiovese interchangeably as Sangiovese is the main grape in the Italian blend known as Chianti. We sometimes find Chianti to be light and really tart instead of more medium bodied and the tartness can go to the point of bitterness.  That means we take a cautious approach to these wines when we buy them.  Cheap Chianti can equal bad Chianti pretty easily.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese and the good news is that is not the case here.

Sangiovese can be light in colour and almost transparent in the the glass.  This wine from the Adriatic coastal Marche region of Italy (which is a very French name for an Italian wine region) is much darker than that.  It is crimson and definitely looks like the medium wine we would expect rather than the lighter versions we have seen.

There is a new oak smell on the wine but we would hazard to guess it hasn't spent that much time in oak.  We also get cherries and little black pepper which lends nicely to a clean overall nose on what we would consider to the a young wine.

As for flavours, the wine is tart and tannic but not overly so, which gives it a bit more balance.  The main notes on the palate are sour cherries and more of the piquant pepper.  Sometimes the lower priced Chiantis of the World can be thin and bitter, even under-ripe but this wine is not like that at all.  It is tasty and would be great with food especially Pasta with Marinara.

   Tasting Notes: Score:
Sight (0-5) Crimson and darker than most Chiantis we've had 4.0
Smell (0-5) Spicy and cherry laden nose with a hint of oak 4.0
Taste (0-10) Tart and tannic but a little balanced. Sour cherries and pepper dominate the palate. 8.0
  Total: 16 / 20 (80%)

Great everyday drinking wine that doesn't hit the wallet too bad.  It is priced right and worth a try.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon