Recently sampled wines worth sipping

Opus One

A short while ago I was at a press luncheon with David Pearson, CEO of iconic Napa Valley winery Opus One. Its elegant, Bordeaux-style red wine was first created back in 1979 as a collaborative effort between Mondavi of California and Rothschild of Bordeaux. Today Mondavi is no longer a partner, and the wine is now equally owned by Constellation Brands and Rothschild. David brought the ‘09, ‘07 and ‘05 with him.

The ‘09 was full of dark fruit, chocolate, spice and vanilla, rich and supple! The opulent, polished ‘07 was more Californian in style. Gobs of spicy, licoriced, cedary fruit and a firmer backbone highlighted this baby. The ‘05 leaned more to the Old World in style, sporting toasted, smoky oak, tobacco, herbs, dried fruits and leather. The ‘09 is presently available in Vintages for $385. Agent in Ontario: Noble Estates,


One of the best-known Tuscan wine producers for Brunello is Banfi. Recently, lunching with Cristina Mariani-May, the CO-CEO of the company, we tasted a fabulous selection of wines. We started off with four rare single-vineyard wines (Sorrena, Podernuova, Poggio d’Orcia and Casanova), all from the 2011 vintage, that really reflected the different terroir.

Next up was the 2007 regular bottling of Brunello (Vintages, $59.95), which was soft and round with toasted plumy notes, herbs and tobacco. The  supple 2001 Brunello (Vintages Virtual Offer, $80) showed ripe, spicy, jammy fruit, earth, chocolate and fine tannins. The single vineyard 2007 Poggio Alle Mura (Vintages Virtual Offer, $75) was full and supple, exhibiting lots of vanilla, dried plum, coffee, light spice and ripe, firm tannins. The age-worthy, savory 1998 (Vintages Virtual Offer, $99) from the same vineyard sported lots of dried red fruit, cigar box, licorice and chocolate.

We then tasted a delicious 2007 Riserva bottling of the same vineyard (Vintages to be released soon, $94.95). Toasted chocolate, cherry jam, dried plum and coffee highlighted this full, rich, juicy harmonious number.

Finishing off with a different single vineyard wine, Poggio All’Oro, we sampled the 2007 and 1995. The extremely well-structured, lush, crisp 2007 (Vintages Virtual Offer, $155) was chock full of toast, plummy jam, tobacco, earth, sweet licorice, coffee and a light floral note. Should age for a long time!

Perhaps the treat of the afternoon was the 1995 (Vintages Virtual Offer, $249) due to its age.

Very complex with toasted red fruit, chocolate, coffee, cedar, leather, spice and even a slight smoky, gamey nuance, this vino walked a fine line between elegance and power and showed its age admirably. Whatever Banfi product you choose, you simply can’t go wrong. They epitomize great winemaking. Agent in Ontario: Authentic Wine and Spirits,

Greek Wine

The New Wines of Greece show rolled into town a couple weeks back and I had the opportunity to taste many selections. Greece is no longer just known for Retsina and Mavrodaphne, but a bevy of delightful wines.

Much of today’s Greek wine is being made by a whole new generation of talented winemakers who have their pulse on what the modern consumer wants. Ancient varieties moulded into concentrated, elegant, well-structured offerings with great balancing acidity utilizing modern equipment! There were far too many interesting wines to list here, but grape varieties of note are the white Assyrtiko, Roditis, Savatiano and the aromatic Malagousia and Moschofilero. Red varieties to try include Agioghitiko and Xinomavro. There are also many interesting wines, blending traditional Greek grapes with better-known western, European varietals like Semillon, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, that are helping lure consumers into the fold.  If you’ve not tried Greek wines in a while, do so. You’ll be amazed at how good they are. To learn more about Greek wine go to

Edward Finstein
a.k.a. The Wine Doctor, wine writer, educator, judge &  consultant

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