Somelier Zoltan Szabo
No one writes a wine note quite like Zoltan Szabo who, after a year managing an Italo-Canadian high-roller restaurant in Shanghai, has returned to his adopted city of Toronto and put his nose deep into the glass again. Maybe it’s his insistence on matching wines with a specifically suggested (and often quite quirky) dish, but I’m so pleased to post his oenophillic musings!
As a rule Good Food Revelation won’t attach a numerical rating to a wine review - just doesn’t make sense to us. But if you would like Zoltan’s five star rating of the wines below, you can contact the man directly through his website www.zoltanszabo.org .
2008 Old Vines Foch, Albert’s Honour, Malivoire, Ontario
Made from 100% Marechal Foch. Albert, the uncle of Martin Malivoire, is a war hero, so that’s what the proprietary name is referring to. This is a serious, single vineyard Foch, the grapes are sourced from Epp Vineyard, located in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula. Black and blue fruit, cardamom and sage, meat and even barnyard aromas here. Medium plus bodied with rich berry fruit flavours, great freshness and smooth tannins. Somewhat rustic, and I love it, just like driving a vintage car or wearing vintage clothing. Needs food with an attitude, a game stew, or some intriguingly stinky and irresistible artisan cheeses like Ciel de Charlevoix or Clandestin.
2007 Syrah, T.H., Undurraga, Limari, Chile
T.H. stands for Terroir Hunter, the winery seeks out new, undiscovered areas such as the nowadays very much in vogue Limari Valley (400 KM North of Santiago with its rocky, minerally soils) that takes its name from the river which runs through it. Grapes come from a 2.8 HA parcel planted with vines between 12 to 20 years old. This wine smells like a fresh-baked blueberry pie, there’s also aroma accents of cassis, plums, cassia spice and musk on the nose. Medium plus bodied with lush and sweet fruit flavours, soft tannins and an intriguing juniper berry nuance on its finish. It has complexity, yet there’s certain elegance here. Will age well up to 5 years. 800 cases made. Under screwcap. I tried it with Black Walnut Lane Farm loin lamb chops with chocolate and mint dipping sauce and it was simply divine.
2008 Valpolicella Classico, La Salette, Veneto, Italy
Young and fresh with fleshy black cherry, blueberry, cacao and anise and other deep spice aroma notes on its nose. Light to medium bodied and fruity over the palate with light calibre tannins coming on its finish. Great with whole - roasted pheasant with dried cranberry - raisin - bread crumb stuffing and sautee root vegetables on the side.
2005 Ninfa, Joao Teodosio Barbosa, Ribatejo, Portugal
Touriga Nacional & Syrah. This red is simple, yet pleasing. Plummy, chocolaty on the nose and palate, juicy and pretty modern- style with just a soft bite of tannins adding extra structure and short - term age-worthiness. A cozy pasta dish comes to my mind to go along this tinto, grilled gourmet sausages and peppers in a tangy tomato sauce.
2007 The Grange Brut, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Traditional method sparkler made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, all estate fruit, so PEC’s first VQA bubbly, made by self-thought winemaker, Jeff Innes. Peach and peach pit, honey and yeast, mineral aromas. Med-weight with lemony, zesty flavours elevated by a med-intensity and persistent mousse; mineraly finish. I much enjoy it with roasted quail, raisin - Basmati rice and sautee salsify. Will be available for the holidays, so you won’t have to buy over-priced imports.
2007 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, Victoria Block, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Bouquet of stone fruit, tropical, resin, cedar and limestone. Medium to full with orange and vanilla flavours dominating, great acidity and a long, pleasant, oaky - toffee finish. Slow roasted pork tenderloin with plenty of roasted garlic, creamy potato mash and apricot coulis is a fair food match here.
2007 Unoaked Chardonnay, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Pretty aromatic, pear and peachy with a soft - creamy texture and a clean - fresh finish. Oysters pop to mind.
2007 Riesling, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Apples, lemon, wax and mineral aroma nuances here. Light to med-weight with sour quince and green apple flavours, and a tart finish. Asking for food. I tried it with crispy tuna with wasabi and citrus sauce, you should too.
2007 Chardonnay, Moira, Malivoire, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
A boisterous Chardonnay, result of the hot 2007 vintage. So rich, canned pineapple, orange toffee, lemon cream and vanilla aromas and flavours. It’s explosive over the palate, lush, full-weight and an overload of glycerol, hot too, it’s everything, and almost over-the-top which does not stop me from loving it. This wine is just “learning to talk” and I am wondering how it will age, although I don’t really care because I want to drink more and more of it right now. Here’s a fat, but well deserved score for this wine that reminds me of just a tiny bit over-weight, but really sophisticated and much desirable woman. Or a cuddly fat cat, “the cat on the bench”…
NV Methode Traditionelle Brut, Estate Bottled, Chateau des Charmes, NOTL
The new label of Chateau des Charmes is a bit more modern and clean, but still maintaining a classic touch. The back label bears a 2D bar code, QR (quick response) code and what you could do is to take a picture of it wth your camera phone and by downloading a free application (go to beetagg.com) you will get instant access to tasting note, recipe and such. Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the 2005 vintage. Just imagine, this wine has spent 4 years on the lees before release. Apples, waxy - honey - yeasty and mineral notes on the nose. Full on the palate and gutsy with broad flavours and vivid mousse, and serious lenght. I like it with food, not on its own, and not too chilled neither. Also, forget about the traditional flute and pour this sparkler in a regular, larger size vessel, or even in a red wine glass. Try it with roasted rabbit with extra virgin olive oil and herbs.
2007 Merlot, Chateau des Charmes, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Black cherry, plums, sage - thyme - herbal, exotic - cardamom - deep spice and dark chocolate aromas. Medium to full with fresh acidity and soft, well integrated tannins. The finish here has an interesting pickling spice accent. Will age 5 to 8 years. Decant it a couple of hours before if you can’t wait, that’s what I did anyway. A lovely wine to go with braised beef short ribs and wild mushroom risotto on the side.
2007 Pinot Noir, Estate Bottled, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Bright nose with accents of strawberry, raspberry, red plum, currants, mint ad minerals. Gracious on the palate with a great depth of flavours and light-weight tannins; clean and long, fruity finish.
2007 Cabernet Franc, Estate Bottled, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Kirsch and savoury fruit notes, fresh acids and a sour berry finish.
2007 Cabernet Franc, Northfield, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Aromas of red cherry, raspberry, spicy - floral, limestone. Medium bodied with soft tannins and a long, herbal finish.
2001 Cabernet Merlot, Viewpointe, Lake Erie North Shore
This winery from the picturesque and shallow waters shore of Lake Erie likes to hang on to its wines and realese them later than usual. The nose here is so old world that if I would be tasting this red blind I would guess Italy. I get aromas of dried and/or dehydrated black fruit - cherry and plum, furthermore there are tobacco, leather, dried leaves and a neat spicy accent of nutmeg on the nose. Medium bodied and dry with a grip of tannins and a spicy - herbaceous finish. Drink now. Try with dried herbs and spice rubbed fatty tuna.
1999 Tinto, Luna Beberide, Bierzo, Spain
Made from a grape called Mencia. This red is still very much alive with black and blue fruit, deep spice, some earth and dried flowers - herbs aromas. Medium bodied and soft with savoury fruit flavours and a tiny bit of dusty tannins. Try it with grilled portobellos or semi-hard Iberian cheeses.
2008 Garnacha, The Potter, Tscharke, Barossa, Australia
Garnacha is the Spanish name for Grenache. Lots of sweet fruit aromas of raspberries, figs and underlying herbal and smokey nuances. Full and juicy with sweet tannins and a long, warm finish. Delicious, liquid MSG. I had it the other night with roasted ostrich.
2004 Chianti Classico Riserva, Guarnellotto, Castello San Sano, Tuscany, Italy
A traditional-style and clkassic Tuscan red here made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Red and black cherries, cnnamon and nutmeg, tobacco and leather, some tar and sweet gamey aroma and flavour notes. Medium bodied and focused with its elements well balanced. Spicy, earthy finish. Esoteric to be sure of, not a sipping wine, but with food. Ready to drink now. I tried it with Indian spices rubbed rare-roasted venison loin.