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Daniel O'Keefe

Daniel O'Keefe

231 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.

301 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
597 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+.

600 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 94/100

63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. Blended at 12 months then returned to barrel to age for an additional 12 months. Icellars continues its excellence with the Left Bank Bordeaux-styled Wiyana Wanda. Eight premium French oak barrels, half new and half seasoned, were chosen for the flagship blend of the estate. Opaque purple hue; the colour concentration hints at the aromatic and flavour intensity to come. A deep, dense, and brooding wine, sky-high potential, restrained in its infancy. It’s there, hiding, contemplating, and waiting to reward your patience. Presently exhibiting freshly ground espresso bean, graham cracker, vanilla, and toasty cocoa. Chewy tannins, tight grip but silky smooth, part of the perfectly balanced trifecta of tannins, body, and acidity. Immense structure. Palate welcomes ripe, juicy, fleshy dark fruits to the mix, namely black cherry and plum. Finish persists in excess of a minute with bold cocoa and coffee. Tasted from a single new barrel, so the oak influence is high, but will come into balance once the equal volumes of new and seasoned oak barrels are reunited for bottling. Wiyana Wanda represents the pinnacle of the cellar blended into a singular, unforgettable, and possibly unrivalled meritage blend in Niagara. It will age, develop, and (somewhat frighteningly) improve for beyond a decade. Save for a big roast, a rich chocolate dessert, or to share with a few very lucky individuals who can appreciate a wine of this calibre. Tasted January 2018, aged 15 months.

299 days ago

Daniel scored this wine: 94/100

An ideal combination of luxurious and invigorating rarely seen in Icewine, but an Icewine of this calibre is rarely seen. Enrapturing nose filled with wildflower honey, grilled pineapple, melon, baked apple, and poached pear. The high acidity cuts sweetness leaving no trace of any syrupy or cloying nature. On the contrast, there's a beguiling creamy texture somehow simultaneously coexisting with the refreshing acidity. Honey and apple pie are front and centre on the palate, but there's room for pear, candied lemon, and tropical fruits to move in during the long finish. A real treat to enjoy a wine crafted so beautifully. An exciting tipple that needs an equally entertaining pairing - try with flambe desserts, especially peach.

Daniel O'Keefe

Wine BloggerVisit Daniel's Website

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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Winner World's Best Drink Writer
WFour-Time Winner James Beard Foundation
Five-Time Winner Association of Food Journalists
Six-Time Winner Bert Greene Award
Best Wine Literature Book Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
Online Writer of the Year Louis Roederer International Wine Writing Award