Vintages Pre-Release Tasting —Cabernet

Vendange Institute, Thursday, 17 February 2011

It was a dark and chilly evening when sixteen participants braved this past February 17th VPR. Guild director Mark Kilpatrick rewarded those in attendance with an interesting selection of wines. Keeping close to the Cabernet theme of Vintages release, eleven wines were sampled across three flights with only two real ringers.
From the three whites offered in the first flight, the close favourite was one of these ringers–a Grüner Veltliner from Leth. People enjoyed its sophisticated aromatics and heft, even if it wasn’t their top choice. A pair of distinctly different Sauvignon Blancs filled out the flight, working thematically as parent to Cabernet Sauvignon. Only a slight preference from the show of hands for the Spy Valley with its overtly typical New Zealand characteristics while the Ferrari-Carano Fumé was appreciated for its softer, more fruit- driven profile.

Turning to reds, the next flight created the most controversy. Evenly tied for first were Gretzky’s No. 99 blend and the Jean Léon Reserva. No. 99 was much commented on during the ‘quiet’ portion of the tasting with concerns expressed about the dramatic and ever-changing aromatics coming off the glass, which occasionally some found unpleasant. The Jean Léon was well-appreciated but its value was put into question when the price was revealed at 1.5x more than the other three. A top favourite for some, and well-liked by most, was our second ringer of the evening—the Glorioso Rioja with qualities of a well-aged Reserva with fruit balanced on barrel textures of caramel and vanilla. Château

Mazeris from Bordeaux, while no one’s top selection, was observed by many as a pleasant wine with typical structured style of coffee and spice blending into the fruit.

The final flight of Cabernet was a definite notch up in quality and inevitably in price. All agreed that the four wines were excellent and deserving of cellar space. With its hefty concentration and sweet fruit the Duckhorn narrowly won out, though again when price was revealed there was discussion on quality:value.

Napanook and Hauts de Pontet- Canet tied for second—the Bordeaux being the least expensive in the flight. The Othello captured its share of fans offering a comparative lightness in the glass with good structure, fresh fruit and floral aromas, and good purity of flavours.

A few participants decamped for a late dinner at nearby Beckta where a highly-recommended, and final twelfth thematic wine of the evening was enjoyed—the Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, which held its own in the final flight and sells for $38 (#225466) in the “In Store Discoveries” portion of the February 19th release.

Flight 1: Whites

  • Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc, 2009, Sonoma, USA, 354993, $19.95 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2009,
  • Marlborough, New Zealand,
  • 686675, $15.95 Leth Vineyards Steinagrund Grüner
  • Veltliner, 2009, Austria, 207282, $16.95

Flight 2: First Cabernets

  • Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Estate Series Cabernet/Merlot, 2007, Niagara, Canada, 128652, $19.95
  • Château Mazeris, 2006, Canon- Fronsac, France, 199034, $19.95
  • Palacio Glorioso Reserva, 2005, Rioja, Spain, 930164, $19.95
  • Jean León Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Penedès, Spain, 401596, $28.95

Flight 3: Premium Cabernets

  • Dominus Napanook, 2007, Napa Valley, USA, 212357, $53.95 Hauts de Pontet-Canet, 2007,
  • Pauillac, France, 100735, $36.00 Christian Moueix Othello, 2007,
  • Napa Valley, USA, 222166, $37.95 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon,
  • 2007, Napa Valley, USA, 24190, $69.95