Monday, January 28, 2008

Rondeau Reds

Rondeau Red Vs. Rondeau Red

As promised last week I am continuing my series comparing wines of different vintages. Last week I compared 2002 and 2004 Cabernet Merlots from Pelee Island. This week I opened up two Rondeau Reds from Smith & Wilson the 2005 and 2006. This is classic case of a good year followed by one that was not as strong. 2005 was an excellent year with a long hot summer while the 2006 was cooler and it shows in the wines. Both wines are fruit forward but the 2005 has very pronounced tannins with cedar and plum and dark cherry flavors. The wine has a lot of structure and is still coming into its own. The 2006 however is has slight vegetal characteristics with muted strawberries (vegetal and green pepper flavors indicate that the grapes were not quite ripe wheen they were harvested). The fruit and tannins are in good balance right now signaling that even though it is a year younger, it is ready to drink before the 2005. My advice to you if you have some 2005 Rondeau Red in your cellar is to leave it there and pick up some 2006 to enjoy for the next year or so while the 2005 gets better and while we wait for the 2007 (which has the potential to be the best year ever for Ontario wines).

Speaking of the 2005 vintage. I had the chance to enjoy the 2005 Sprucewood Shores Pinot Noir the other day. It is a beautiful example of a pinot with loads of leather, cedar and cranberry flavors. It is a great value for about $15.95 per bottle. Sprucewood also has just released their 2005 Meritage. The 2004 Meritage was sold out last June (they had to limit people to 2 bottles per person during their Grand Opening Celebration) and I don’t think the 2005 will be around long either. I will review my notes and share them soon.

Pelee Island Cab Merlot

A Tale of Two Wines:

As I mentioned last week, I was down at Pelee Island Winery picking up some wine and seeing what was new. As you may have read previously, I am a big proponent of going to the wineries and buying wine direct. There were two finds, the shiraz I raved about last week as well as a 2002 Vinedressers Cabernet Merlot—I think they were clearing out some of their cellar library because they are currently selling their 2005 Cabernet Merlot aswell. This is another of the many reasons to visit the wineries themselves (in additon to the main one, try before you buy), sometimes they have these deals on older library wines that are available nowhere else.

I opened up a bottle of the 2002 and the 2004 Cabernet Merlot for a side by side tasting. The 2002 still had very aggressive tannins and beautiful dried cranberry notes. When I first tasted it my mouth screamed for a rare piece of beef to match the dry ripe tannins. The 2004 on the other hand was quite similar except the cranberry flavour was sweet ripe and juicy and the tannins were much rounder and ready to drink. This is a classic example of vintage years being important to a wine. 2002 was a great growing year and the wines were big and full with potential to age longer. The 2004 vintage created some excellent wines aswell, but more for immediate gratification. I don’t see the 2004 drinking much better with another 2 years of age under its belt, but the 2002 certainly will improve even more (the tannins will mellow and the fruit will develop even more of the intense dried characteristic).

From what I understand from talking to the local winemakers (as well as reading some other wine writers), the wines from 2007 show promise of being one of the best years ever in Ontario. The summer was long and hot with a long fall harvest. This is a good time to stock up on 2005 & 2006 wines to drink now and over the next few years as we wait and let the bounty of 2007 (when they are released) sit in the basement and get better with age.

This week I intend to open up Smith and Wilson’s 05 & 06 Rondeau Red to see what a difference a year makes with it. If you want to experiment yourself, I do have both the 02 and 04 Pelee Cebernet Merlot’s on the list at Stargazers as well as the 05 & 06 Rondeau Reds.