Vintages Pre-Release Tasting—Spain, Portugal and California Icons

Vendange Institute, 17 March, 2011

Reported by Rod Story

Guild director Rod Story led the tasting with a total of 12 wines from the upcoming release, divided into five flights. A majority of wines were from Portugal and Spain with a flight of heavy hitters from California plus a few ringers from other parts to keep it interesting. Everyone attending found a few that they were going to purchase.

The first flight favourite was the Mosel Riesling but all wines were enjoyed. The Riesling had a delicate floral (rose petal) nose and palate. It was off dry with 8.5% alcohol and would make a lovely patio wine. The Vinho Verde had a sweet herbaceous nose (sweet grass?) with a light fizz on the palate with fresh acidity that would match salty appetizers (fried smelt). The Albarino had nose as well but it was more wet forest than grass. It was the most concentrated of the three whites with a palate of white grapefruit. Some found it a bit too bitter.

The second flight favourite was the third wine. It had an earth, leather and forest floor nose with dark fruit on the palate and good acidity. A well balanced wine that was drinking well now but would improve over the next couple of years. Easily worth $22. The first wine was good value as well if not as complex as the third. It was a bit closed with hints of red berry that came through on the palate with some fennel. It is a wine that would match meat with tomato sauce. The second wine was the biggest wine of the flight with lots of toasty oak and fruit extract that would improve with several years of age. It had noticeable sulphur on the nose which detracted from its other merits.

The second wine was the favourite of the third flight. It looked much younger than 2004 and would benefit from another 3 years. Nevertheless, it was well structured with a great acidity and a long finish (dark fruit and leather). The first wine was of the simple and juicy fresh berry variety with well integrated oak. It is ready to drink now.

The fourth flight was the big wines of the evening. The crowd favourite was the Hobbs but the Mission Hill Quatrain had a number of votes as well. All three wines were very young and needed at least 5 or more years. The Quatrain was the most polished and understated of three, exhibiting the most finesse. It had great extracted berry fruit with lots of tannin and astringency to match. The Jonata was a huge wine but seemed disjointed and pulling in different directions. Maybe over time it will come together. There is no doubting its concentration, chewy tannins and warm finish. In the short term serve it with braised meats. The Hobbs was a big muscular Cabernet Sauvignon with concentrated blackberry fruit, tannins to match with toasty vanilla. It had an extremely long finish. A well made wine that was worth its price.

The final wine of the evening given the Spain and Portugal theme had to be a port. The LBV was good value at $19.95 for a full bottle. It had a nose of fig and other dried fruit with a lovely warm smooth finish. It had no harsh bits which LBVs sometime have. Pick up a bottle for yourself or to introduce Port to your friends.

Flight 1: Whites

Varanda do Conde Vinho Verde 2009 (Portugal), #966663, $13.95
Leira Albarino 2009 (Rias Baixas, Spain), #115816, $16.95
Studert-Prum Riesling Kabinett 2009 (Mosel, Germany), #970129, $18.95

Flight 2: Reds

Quinto Nova Pomares 2008 (Douro, Portugal), #214007, $16.95
Eternum Viti 2008 (Toro, Spain), #210963, $18.95
Finca Sobreno Crianza 2007 (Toro, Spain), #040360, $17.95

Flight 3: More Reds

Perrin & Fils Les Cornuds 2008 (Vinsobres, France), #566844 , $17.95
Vina Mayor Reserva 2004 (Ribera del Duero), #209155, $25.95

Flight 4: Big Reds

Mission Hill Quatrain 2006 (British Columbia), #218636, $44.95
Jonata 2006 (Santa Ynez Valley Todos, CA), #218941, $59.95 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 (Napa Valley, CA), #119065, $79.95

Flight 5: Port! What else?

Quinta Da Romaneira Unfiltered LateBottled Vintage Port 2004, #196758, $19.95