Vintages Pre-Release Tasting

February 16, 2012
Reported by Dave Williamson

The February 18 Vintages Release contained “22 customer favourites” and a smaller theme of “tasting terroir”. In the end it is maybe one of the more confused releases in several months, though, as always, there were some hidden gems and strong values to be found for those willing to look beyond the upfront LCBO marketing. The tasting focused on wines from the terroir theme and main release, and did not cover any of the 22 favourites. Three flights of 4 wines were tasted —one white and two red. A bonus 13th wine was served at the end. As usual all wines were tasted blind. The evening was hosted by Guild Director Richard Thibodeau.

Popular value wines of the tasting were the Mike Weir Riesling, the Schroeder Pinot Noir from Patagonia, and the Massandra Muscat from the Ukraine. All are value priced from $15-18.

White Flight

  • Mike Weir Riesling, 2008, VQA Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, #229286, $14.95
  • Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay, 2009, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, #271841, $34.95
  • Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay, 2009, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA, #273334, $34.95
  • Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2009, AC Bourgogne, France, #272005, $34.95

As the odd one out in the flight, the Mike Weir Riesling was identified by the majority of the group, enjoyed for its tropical fruitiness, and tied as the flight favourite with the Bachelder Chardonnay from Niagara. The remainder of the flight sampled the interesting work of Canadian Winemaker Thomas Bachelder (formerly of Le Clos Jordanne). It was a rare opportunity to taste three wines, made in such a fashion, side by side, and the terroir certainly shone through. All three are excellent, well-made wines, and a great education on their region of origin. The Niagara Bachelder was the overwhelming favourite over the sweetness and coconut showing in the Oregon wine, and the lighter reserved offering from Burgundy. The Bachelder Chardonnays were in short supply at the LCBO, and at $100 to invest in a similar tasting at home this was certainly worth the price of admission for the evening.

First Red Flight

  • Champy Signature Pinot Noir Bourgogne, 2009, AC Bourgogne, France, #001149, $20.95
  • Hitching Post Hometown Pinot Noir, 2008, Santa Barbara County, California, USA, #256644, $26.95
  • Maysara Jamsheed Pinot Noir, 2008, McMinnville, Oregon USA, #127035, $31.95
  • Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Pinot Noir, 2008, Patagonia, Argentina, #055442, $17.95

Richard managed to fool the group for a second consecutive VPR by again lining up a flight of the same varietal. The wines in this flight changed in character and profile during the tasting, and some time in a decanter may show their full potential. While many picked the first wine as a Pinot Noir, wines in the flight were identified as blends, Cabernet Franc, Grenache and Syrah with no clear identification of new vs. old world. None of the group identified all four as Pinot Noir. Preference was evenly split amongst the four, though on learning the price all agreed the Patagonian wine was a great value, and certainly not anticipated from Argentina (better known for Malbecs, Bonardas and Cabs). The Hitching Post Pinot Noir (the winery well known from Sideways) was also favourable and showed signs of black currant and caramel. The Champy Signature showed some complexity, pepper, and is elegant and well balanced. The Oregon Pinot was higher in acidity and likely to be food friendly.

Second Red Flight

  • Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco, 2007, DOCG, Piedmont, Italy, #708826, $41.95
  • Piccini Villa al Cortile Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, 2005, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, #205724, $41.95
  • Banfi Riserva Chianti Classico, 2007, DOCG, Tuscany, Italy, #998328, $27.95
  • Township 7 Syrah, 2007, VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C., #263665, $25.95

This flight was generally disappointing for most of the group. All three Italian wines were viewed to be overpriced, and most voted that the 91 awarded to the Brunello by Wine Spectator should be turned upside down. Of the three, the Barbaresco was the most favourable with hints of raspberry. The Township 7 Syrah was voted the best of the flight showing cherry and white pepper, and good balance.

Fourth Flight
The winner of the night was saved until the end. The Muscat from Ukraine won rave reviews from the group with most planning to pick up at least one bottle. From a region of the world that we don’t often get the opportunity to sample from, it would serve well with blue cheese, nuts, or fruit.