Monday, January 30, 2006

A tale of two Cab Francs

Cabernet Franc is among my favourite red varietals. I know many wine afficionados view this a a blending grape only. Too bad for them! I'll often pick a Cab Franc over a Cabernet Sauvignon at a side-by-side tasting. Fortunately, many Niagara wineries bottle Cabernet Franc in its pure varietal form.

Over the past few weeks, I 'went to the cellar' to retrieve a couple of Cab Franc. One of those was a bottle I brought back from a trip to the Okanagan Valley a couple of year ago. The 2nd was a local Cab Franc from my favourite local establishment.

I took a my precious bottle of Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2001 to a very special dinner party. The guest chef called for a Cabernet Franc. I actually preferred to match a Chianti Classico Riserva with the course, but I was convinced to offer the Cab Franc. As it turned out, the wine was overly tannic - even for moi. (On the other hand, the CCR would have been no match for the wild boar sausage.)

On the whole, the Burrowing Owl was a bit of a disappointment - hardly the fruity, well-balanced wine I enjoyed so much at the winery. Hey, it happens!

Over the last few evenings, I've been enjoying a Daniel Lenko Cabernet Franc 2003. This has turned out to be excellent. It's still a young wine with a certain racy acidity. I guess I enjoy racy acidity in a wine.

Some people like a wine to soften out. In general, I prefer only a slight softening. However, if you have the 2001 Burrowing Owl Cab Franc, you might wish to keep in cellared a while longer.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wine touring - the 'Why' question.

Since I arrived in Toronto - now over seven years ago - I've likely been wine tasting in the Niagara region at least thirty times. While I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to become such a frequent visitor (in fact there isn't room for everyone), I'm sure that most anyone who enjoys wine will enjoy a day trip down to our ever-expanding backyard wine region.


It's true that the larger LCBO outlets have a good selection of Ontario wines. However, the top ends of most producers' lines are generally not offered through the government run stores. If you are looking for wines in the $7 - $13 range, the LCBO will have a reasonable selection from the larger establishments. However, you'll be hard pressed to find the excellent wines from smaller wineries - or the better wines from wineries such as Cave Springs and Henry of Pelham.

The LBCO does offer a few of these 'finds' in the Vintages (tm?) program - either in the monthly/bi-monthly releases, or in the Classics Catalogue - however, the representation is minimal in the overall scheme of things.


The second advantage that making the trip to wine country offers is to provide you the opportunity to taste the wines before purchasing. In many cases, there is no tasting fee - or the fee may be waived if you purchase wine. (In a future post, I'll cover how tastings work at the typical winery.)

There is no substitute for your own pallate when buying wines for you and your household. The LBCO may have printed up tasting notes and ratings from Wine publications such as Spectator or Wine Advocate. While the ladies and gentlemen behind these notes may be very knowledgeable about wine, they are not YOU. In terms of your tastes, YOU are the expert.

When you go to taste wine in Niagara (or Napa, Tuscany etc.), trust your taste buds.

Pastoral retreat

Yes 'wine country' is country. Now while the Niagara Peninsula is not bereft of built-up areas, but most wineries are in rural spots. If you are looking for an escape from Urbia or Suburbia, you can certainly choose to head to a rural area that specializes in hog-farming, however, in my humble opinion, wine-growing regions are way more fun that hog-farming regions.

Cheers and welcome

Rather that intersperse wine posts within my politically oriented blog (, I'm creating a new blog. This new space in the information ether will be host to:

- tasting notes on wine,
- notes from trips to various wine growing regions, and
- suggsestions and recommendations on touring the wine country here in our backyard - The Niagara Peninsula,

This evening, I begin (in the next post) with a discussion on the merits of hauling off to wineries and tasting.