Friday, 28 August 2015

Nobilo Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand

Nobilo: Nikola Nobilo left Croatia in the 1940s and made New Zealand his new home. While his family (and Croatia) had a wine-making tradition (Miljenko Grgich of Grgich Hills in Napa, California immigrated to the United States from Croatia in 1954), New Zealand did not have a developed industry. The Nobilo family (and other Croatian immigrants) found only fortified wine and that led to Nikola's decision to make wine. At first the wine was destined for family consumption but word (and wine) spread to neighbours, including current Nobilo wine maker David Edmonds' parents, and eventually a commercial winery was born.

Social:  Unfortunately I have yet to visit New Zealand but I was invited, along with other Ottawa-based sommeliers and wine writers and bloggers to taste Nobilo wines over lunch at the sophisticated Ottawa restaurant "Social." The chef and bar manager at Social put together a delicious menu to pair with various vintages and styles of two varietals from Nobilo wines: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014: I should admit that I am generally not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc. The varietal, especially the New Zealand style, is commonly recognized by the aromas of canned asparagus or peas and cat urine. In France the varietal is known as Sancerre after the appellation of that name in the Loire Valley.  So I was pleasantly surprised with the superb quality of David Edmonds' winemaking. The Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 has abundant aromas of passionfruit (maracuya), pineapple, melons, lemon-lime, and herbs. It represents a blend from vineyards in different sub-regions in Marlborough. On the palate it was crisp and acidic with mouthwatering flavours of green apple, passionfruit and unripened pineapple. It was the perfect pairing for quickly seared tuna sprinkled with spicy red pepper and served with wasabi and cucumber.

Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2014:  This rendition of the varietal was not a fruit forward wine like the Regional Collection. Rather, it has predominant aromas and flavours of minerality, lime and green herbs. I could detect some pepper that winemaker Dave Edmonds pinpointed as jalapeño pepper. This wine did have a hint of asparagus on the palate and indeed paired well with Social's asparagus salad.


Icon Pinot Noir 2010, 2013, 2014: We tasted three vintages and each was very distinct from the other. The 2010 vintage, no longer available for sale, was a complex wine with aromas of peppery, smoke, ripe red fruit, blueberry and additional flavours of leather, dark chocolate and licorice. In the mouth the 2010 was silky smooth, well integrated tannins, medium plus body and dry. At 15% alcohol it was a bit "hot" with the lamb. The 2013 was more fruit forward on the nose but with other aromas of white pepper, game, forest floor and mocha. This lighter body wine and brigher acidicty was the perfect match with the grilled lamb which had been rubbed with delicious harissa (Tunisian hot chile paste). The 2013 vintage is currently available in Ontario. The 2014 Pinot was a delicious blend of dark cherry, forest floor and toasty caramel.  These wines are on a medium grain French oak for about 9 months. The oak aromas and flavours still need to integrate and the wine could age for a few more years.

Thursday, 8 January 2015


Bogota Beer Company:  The BBC calls itself the biggest small brewery in Colombia. Many of the company's regular beers are named after a neighbourhood or cultural event in Bogotá. On a recent trip I tasted the Monserrate in a restaurant and on the following weekend I prepared my own tasting with four other beers (conveniently sold in small bottles).  My tasting notes follow:

The name of the beer refers to the mountain that rises over 3,000 metres above the city centre. It can be reached by foot, funicular or tram.  This red beer has won international medals.
colour: a light red
aromas: cereal, buckwheat honey, toasted walnuts, orange blossom
flavours: cereal, honey, brown sugar, orange pith
malt: medium to medium plus
hops:low med
finish: medium length

Candelaria Clasica
The Candelaria is the historic centre of Bogotá and sits below Monserrate. It has colonial architecture and stone streets where tourists and bogotanos visit museums, libraries, art galleries and national government buildings.
aroma: - cereal, honey,citrus (very Little aroma)
flavour - very clean, cereal ; short finish; drops quickly; Kolsch style

Chapinero Porter
North of the city centre is an expansive neighbourhood that was historically the residence and work place of artisans, including shoemakers. More recently, the old homes in the northeasternmost part of Chapinero have been converted into restaurants and the area has become a gourmet zone referred to as zona G.
colour: dark brown but translucent
aromas: molasses, chocolate, licorice, smoke
flavours: molasses, coffee, chocolate
malt: medium-high
hops: low
finish: long, coffee on palate
BBC Premium Lager
The label claims this to be blond lager made from a German recipe and it is the only lager made by BBC.
colour: golden
aromas: cereal, honey, spring wáter
flavours: honey, biscuit
malt: medium
hops: low
finish: crisp, refreshing;short length

Cajica Honey Ale
Cajica is a municipality just north of Bogotá. The beer won world's best honey beer medal
colour: yellow
aromas: wildflower, clover, honey, nuts, cinnamon
flavours: honey, cereal
malt: low-medium
hops: low
finish: short, clean, crisp, refreshing