Vintages Pre-Release Tasting— Vintages Finest and Iconic Wines

Thursday, November 22, 2012
Vendange Institute 440 Albert Street

Reported by Rod Story

The last Vintages release of November always features a large selection of high-end wines for the upcoming holiday season. It is not generally a release where you find bargains, but the wines are fun to taste. Guild Director Allan Martineau led the tasting starting with a flight of three white wines followed by two flights of red with four and five wines respectively.

For the flight of white wines, the majority of votes for favourite were for the last wine of the flight, the Chardonnay. The first wine was a Verdicchio which offered some herbaceous and floral notes that followed through on the palate with food friendly zippy acidity. It had good fruit concentration that punched above its price point. Try with sautéed shrimp. The second white was an atypical Riesling. It had a sweet floral nose with honeysuckle that led one to think Riesling, but on the palate it had a strong core of lemon like acidity that made one think it was a Chenin Blanc. An interesting wine that requires food. The final wine of the flight was a classic new world elegant Chardonnay. The nose was of toasty oak with hints of lemon and tropical fruit. On the palate it had great concentration and minerality with well integrated oak and a very long finish. A wine with great finesse.

For the second flight, the final wine was the clear favourite followed by the third wine. The first wine was a Lirac. It had a warm, jam-like, berry nose. On the palate it was quite dry with great astringency but somewhat light on the palate with a medium-short finish. A good wine for braised meats but a bit overpriced. The second wine of the flight was the Beaucastel which was the most expensive wine of the evening. Unfortunately it didn?t show well in comparison to the final two wines. It was very young and its nose and flavours were quite muted. It had a warm berry nose with cherry and cedar on the palate. Though it seemed somewhat light on the palate, it was nevertheless highly structured with a finesse that belied its providence. The third wine was tied for the best value of the evening. It cost $18.95 and tasted like it was priced in the high $20s. It had a fading purple rim with a nose of toast and hints of forest floor. On the palate it had good fruit concentration and a bright acidity reminiscent of a Spanish wine even though it was from South Africa. The fourth and final wine of the flight was like a typical new world wine with sweet ripe and jammy berry fruit on the nose and palate. It also had great acidity like that of Montmorency cherry to balance the ripe fruit. A definite crowd pleaser and good value at $21.95.

For the final flight, the third wine was the favourite with fourth earning second place in this lineup. The first wine had a nose of black cherry and almond and reminded me of a Hershey?s cherry blossom. To others it was more like fruit cake and mincemeat. Though a big wine with great black fruit and tannin, it was a bit hot at 14.9% alcohol. The second wine had some earthy notes and black cherry that followed through on the palate with good tannic structure and a warm finish. A classic California Napa Cab. Good value at $29.95. The third wine was the flight favourite with a leather and garrigue nose that was accompanied by some stewed fruit on the palate. A somewhat funky wine that had wide appeal. The fourth wine tied for the best value of the evening. Though it cost only $28.95, many priced it at $40 or more. It had the structure and finesse of well crafted old world wine with notes of coffee and dried plum on the palate. A tad warm but quite enjoyable for its complexity and long finish. The final wine, from Argentina of the flight caused considerable debate on whether it was faulted or not. It had an oxidized nose of an Olorosso sherry with notes of game and roast meat. It was the oldest wine of the evening at six years and everyone wondered if this is the way it was supposed to taste. It didn?t garner any votes.

Flight 1

  • Castel Sole Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico, 2011, 287847, $15.95
  • Cave Kientzheim-Kaysersberg Anne Boecklin Schlossberg Riesling, 2009, 61390, $23.95
  • Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay, 2010, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, 45583, $62.95


Flight 2

  • Domaine Grand Veneur Clos De Sixte Lirac, 2010, 076349, $22.95
  • Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape, 2010, 711317, $89.95
  • Lomond Syrah, 2008, Wo Cape Agulhas, South Africa, 146464, $18.95
  • Cortes De Cima Red, 2009, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal, 677971, $21.95

Flight 3

  • Cliff Lede Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Napa Valley, California, 014217, $74.95
  • Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010, Napa County, 186171, $29.95
  • Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Napa Valley, 118695, $38.95
  • Nk?mip QwAM QwMT Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, VQA Okanagan Valley, 303719, $28.95
  • Susana Balbo Brioso, 2006, Agrelo, Mendoza, Unfined and Unfiltered, 95265, $36.95