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Daniel O'Keefe

Daniel O'Keefe

518 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 95/100

Representing the pinnacle of the Foreign Affair portfolio, Gran Q is the embodiment of all that the winery does best. Powerful bouquet consisting of fig, dried black cherry, cherry compote, blackcurrant, red currant, leather, tobacco, espresso, cocoa, and smoke. The palate leads with a hint of sweetness before behemoth tannins, bright acidity, and a massive body move in, somehow balanced despite the enormous stature of each element. The palate is delighted by black cherry, cassis, blackberry, fig, tobacco, and oak. This wine represents the culmination of Foreign Affair's pioneering and trailblazing efforts in appassimento in North America, 105 days of grape drying, 28 months in French oak, blending the big reds they craft so well (51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot), and bottle aging for three years prior to releasing this 18.7% ABV leviathan of a wine. Enjoy now through the end of the 2030s with roasted red meats, blue and hard cheeses, dark chocolate, and those special people deemed worthy of sharing this singular wine with.

132 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 95/100

A stunning example of what may happen when a top quality wine built to age is given the opportunity to develop and evolve. Opens quickly to display a plethora of fresh fruit and dried fruit, combining cherry, plum, and cassis with prune, raisin, and fig. Oak is gentle and complementary, offering up cocoa, coffee, and vanilla. Leather and earth are lighter on the nose but heavier on the palate, forming a core midpalate surrounded by fruit flavours. Tannins are resolved and as smooth as silk. Full bodied but not as high as some Amarone, clocking in at a respectable 15.5% ABV. Acidity is remarkably fresh, not a hint of volatility to report. Finish persists for in excess of 30 seconds. Truly magnificent, and a wonderful way to celebrate a 30th birthday. Pair with charcuterie and good company.

Icel Vineyard

Icellars Estate Winery Icel Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
324 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 94/100

After the stellar 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from Icellars Estate Winery, it was obvious that it would be hard to match that offering. It has been at or near the top of the the best Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon list on Vivino since it appeared. Incredibly, the 2017 tops the 2016. Both are excellent, but the longer and more balanced 2017 growing season in Niagara gave more hangtime to the fruit and thus more complexity and harmony. A rising star for years to come, the new CS leads with sweet smoke, barrel spice, cocoa, espresso, and graham crackers before ripe blackcurrant, cassis, black cherry, menthol, and eucalyptus move in. Harvested at 25.9 brix, this is full and structured, but impressively balanced. Robust tannins, fine-grained and mouth-coating. Acidity keeps freshness and lends a definite food-friendly edge to this wine. I can easily see myself enjoying this next day, next week, next month, next year, next decade, anytime in between, and for time time after. Ageworthy, but honestly, how can you resist this Cabernet Sauvignon with a fine cut of beef, lamb, or piece of dark chocolate?

588 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 94/100

An aromatic behemoth exploding with blackberry, blackcurrant, cassis, and jammy dark fruits, red cherry, prune, fig, raisin, and dried fruits, tobacco, and leather. 30 months in a combination of French and American oak lend massive but balanced smoke, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, and toasty notes. Rich, textured, and concentrated palate echoing the nose with a wide array of jammy dark, red, and dried fruits as well as smoke, oak, and spice. Body is a monstrous 17.6% ABV. Tannins are intense but very fine-grained. Acidity is high and balanced. The small amount of residual sugar helps to keep all of the elements in balance. Built to age and improve like an Amarone, Q could go for 20+ years in the collection of a patient wine lover. A special wine demanding a special meal, I recommend going traditional Italian with dishes such as braised beef with Amarone risotto, wild boar ragu, or pasta with duck sauce. Grilled beef, mature and robust cheeses, and dark chocolate would also make ideal pairings. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 17% Cabernet Franc.

Icel Vineyard

Icellars Estate Winery Icel Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
884 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 94/100

Grapes from the Icel Vineyard were hand-harvested and double sorted on November 17th at an astounding 26.2 Brix. Destemmed, lightly crushed, and cold soaked for seven days with punch downs thrice daily. A 14-day fermentation followed with punch downs once daily. Drained and pressed, settled for two days, then transferred to premium French oak barrels, half new and half seasoned. 12 months of aging with several rackings followed. A final blend of 10 barrels accounting for 250 cases was bottled. The new standard for Cabernet Sauvignon in Niagara, the yard stick by which every varietal example originating in the Peninsula will be measured against moving forward. Young, it takes some breathing to coax out the bouquet. Leads with graham cracker, vanilla, oak spice, and toasty cocoa. Then in comes the blackcurrant, cassis, blackberry, black cherry, violets, tobacco, and eucalyptus. Massive mouth-coating tannins, built like a Barolo or Vintage Port, but so fine-grained and smooth that while pairing a protein is a recommendation, it is not a necessity. Impressively balanced, not an easy feat given the enormous proportions of tannin, alcohol (14.7% ABV), and acidity. The ripeness of Napa meets the complexity of Coonawarra, blended together in the perfect balance of power and poise in a way that only an extended hangtime in a cool climate could achieve. Decant for a few hours before a dinner including prime rib, ribeye steaks, or top sirloin, on the rarer side. Enjoy 2018 through 2026+.

Daniel O'Keefe

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Memorable Wine

Foreign Affair Cabernet Franc 2004

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First Wine

Wayne Gretzkey Chardonnay

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Unusual Wine Experience

Old, dry, and oxidative Niagara Riesling with lasagna. Somehow, it worked really well.

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Current Fav Wine

Riesling, always Riesling!

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