Vintages Pre-Release Tasting—Pinot Noir and Bordeaux

September 15, 2011

Reported by Rod Story

The September VPR picked up both themes from Vintages’ release— Cabernet-based Bordeaux blends and Pinot Noir. We kicked of with a pair of whites to start. Crowd favourite was Terra D’Alter, a curious and pleasant blend from Alentejano, Portugal of the native Arinto and Viogner grapes. It had crisp minerality and fresh pure fruit. Rabl Reserve Vinum Optimum Grüner Veltliner was a happy second choice for many, typical of the varietal though its heft and structure wanted food and perhaps time to mature.

The first of four red flights featured a pair of light bodied and remarkably affordable Pinot Noirs. The Red Shot Lane (Oregon) was top pick for all but two members. It had pure classic Pinot notes that was well complemented with oak. Several pegged the value well above actual $18.95 price. The other wine, from Domaine Parent (Burgundy), had definite old world characteristics providing an interesting contrast and also great value.

Our next flight featured three premium Pinots. Off the start there was disappointment with the Churton (Marlborough NZ), which seemed subtly tainted with TCA. Lurking behind that fault appeared to be an interesting wine and a few participants suggested they’d try it again. The other two were both excellent, though a slight majority in the room favoured the sweet cherry fruit offered by the Angela from Clawson Creek (Oregon) over the spicy old world styling of the Roche de Bellene Gevrey-Chambertin.

The fourth flight generated considerable debate. Preferences around the room were evenly split for the three wines presented. After discussion it was evident wines were simply different and choice was based on particular styles rather than any quality differences. First wine up was intended as a ringer though a member actually did pick it out as a Syrah from South America. The Emiliana Syrah/ Mourvedre (Chili) was inky in tone with big black fruit, quite tannic, but complemented by balanced barrel aromas and flavours. Second in the trio was a classic Haut-Medoc from

Château Semonlon (Bordeaux) with pleasant herbal greeness, coffee aromas, with a red fruit and good heft on the palate. And last in the flight, the First Press Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa) was somewhat muted in contrast to the others, but offered floral nose with plum and vanilla overlaying ripe but slightly cooked fruit flavour. At less than $20 each of the three were agreed to be excellent values.

Our final flight was also an even split—old world versus new world. These were both huge wines. The Château Lacoste Borie Pauillac was still somewhat closed offering a sandalwood spice balanced with fruit in a very well structured form. The Penfolds Bin 407 had huge tannins, definite red currant & red plum notes on the nose and palate with a hint of telltale Aussie menthol- eucalyptus.

Flight 1: Whites

  • Terra D’Alter Reserva White, 2010, Alentejano, Portugal, #219212, $13.95
  • Rabl Reserve Vinum Optimum Gruner Veltliner, 2009, DAC Kamptal, Austria, #216473, $19.95

Flight 2: Light Reds

  • Domaine Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2009, Burgundy, France, #597971, $19.95
  • Red Shot Lane Pinot Noir, 2009, Willamette Valley, Oregon, #242560, $18.95

Flight 3: Premium Medium Reds

  • Maison Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes Gevrey-Chambertin, 2009, Burgundy, France, #240424, $47.95
  • Churton Pinot Noir 2008 (Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand), #237164, $36.95
  • Clawson Creek Angela Pinot Noir, 2008, Willamette Valley, Oregon, #254177, $49.95

Flight 4: Medium Reds

  • Emiliana Winemaker’s Selection Syrah/Mourvedre, 2007, Los Robles, Colchagua Valley, Chili, #243394, $18.95
  • Château Semonlon, 2008, Haut- Médoc, Bordeaux, France, #244475, $17.95
  • First Press Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Napa Valley, CA, #188110, $19.95

Flight 5: Premium Big Reds

  • Château Lacoste Borie, 2008, Pauillac, 2nd wine of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, #249011, $39.95
  • Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, South Australia, #414987, $34.95