Vintages Pre-Release Tasting—Cali Pioneers and Central South Italy— Have your Say

February 28, 2013
Vendange Institute 440 Albert Street

Reported by Dawn Harvie

It was a full house for this VPR that included wines from California and Italy.

The first flight very happily, for some of us anyway, only included two whites—not that we don?t enjoy white, it?s just that we enjoy reds more, and fewer whites means more reds! The first wine, the Eberle Mill Road Viognier 2011, had floral notes as well as that of peaches. It was described as being a bit sour by some. The second wine had a few more fans than the first white, but some thought it was a Chardonnay with a buttery mouthfeel and some flavours of oak. One described it as a wine you would enjoy if you liked the use of malolactic and toasted oak. This wine, though, was not a Chardonnay, but the Vina Robles White 4 2010, a blend of Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino. The next two wines in the flight were Pinot Noirs, however some thought with the candy fruit flavours they might be Gamay. These Pinots were definitely done in the fruitier style. The first, the Bonterra Pinot Noir, classified as an organic product as are all of Bonterra?s wines, was sweet and juicy that developed some spicy notes as it sat in the glass. Of the two Pinots, this was the favourite. The Devil?s Corner Pinot had some peppery, spice notes, was well structured and could be cellared.

The second flight were all Italian. The first wine, the Terrelíade Nirà Nero d?Avola 2010, was full of big black fruit with a sweetness and a little like a Cabernet Franc in that it had some green pepper. The second wine, which was second favourite of the flight, had some good fruit flavours. Although it was described as being uncomplicated, notes of earth, tobacco, chocolate and licorice developed in the glass. The third wine, when first nosed, had some off, almost corked notes, but these did not show up on the palate. As it turns out, it was a rustic, old Barbaresco—the Poderi Colla Roncaglie Barbaresco 2008. The last wine, the San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello di Montalcino 2006, was the favourite of the flight. It was full-bodied, with good fruit, dried herbs and leather. As Rod Story, Guild Director, said, “Its got it, its got it all.”

The third flight were four Cabernet Sauvignon. Rod Story, a Director who has been long-time member of the Guild, guessed it as a wine from Portugual. Trying to guess the wines —new world/old word, country, vintage—is one of the fun aspects of a Guild tasting. And as Rod noted, “As much as I guess it right, I get it wrong more.” And he was wrong, as the wine was a Tempranillo, the Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2004, from Spain. Granted he was close! This wine was the cheapest of the flight at $29.95. The second wine, the Frog?s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, had fruit and a bit of mustiness. Neither of the first two wines were favoured by the group. The third wine had some green notes, a bit of earth and was big and round. It was described as elegant. It was the Beringer Steinhauer Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and it was the second favourite of the flight. The last wine was the favourite of the flight. It had some big, jammy fruit, peppery spice, oak and was balanced in terms of tannins and fruit. At $69.95 and $77.95 respectively for the last two wines, they were not wines that most of the group were going out to buy on Saturday, but they enjoyed the opportunity to taste them.

First Flight

  • Eberle Mill Road Vineyard Viognier, 2011, Paso Robles, 313478, $29.95
  • Vina Robles White 4, 2010, Paso Robles, 313460, $18.95
  • Bonterra Pinot Noir, 2010, Mendocino County, 317685, $19.95
  • Devil?s Corner Pinot Noir, 2011, Tasmania (Tamar Ridge), 317966, $20.95

Second Flight

  • Terrelíade Nirà Nero d?Avola, 2010, IGT Sicilia (Santa Margherita), 120980, $17.95
  • Apollonio Copertino Rosso, 2007, DOC Puglia, 4023226, $16.95
  • Poderi Colla Roncaglie Barbaresco, 2008, DOCG, 715763, $44.95
  • San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello di Montalcino, 2006, DOCG, 212431, $47.95

Third Flight

  • Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva, 2004, Doca Rioja, 976670, $29.95
  • Frog?s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010, Napa Valley, 932400, $56.95
  • Beringer Steinhauer Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 313551, $69.95
  • La Jota Howell Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 659755, $77.95