Vintages Pre-Release Tasting: Finest/Iconic

November 21, 2013

Reported by Sean O’Regan

Held at the Vendange Institue, this event was sold out to Guild members and guests, and for good reason. The wines tasted from this Vintages release were generally finer wines targeted for the holiday season. Given that there was no constraining theme to the release, the group was provided an eclectic selection of wines to enjoy.

Ten wines were tasted blind over three flights, starting with three whites and followed by three reds and ending with a flight of four reds.

First Flight

Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling, 2012 Niagara Peninsula, #80234, $16.95
Pale straw, prominent apple, citrus lemon, hint of petrol/flint. The palate showed ripe apple, a perceived sweetness behind the racy acidity with a light body and long lemon citrus finish. The wine tied for second favorite of the flight.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Karia Chardonnay, 2011, Napa Valley, California, #54585, $$39.95
Pale gold, immediately upon pouring, pungent mineral/flint popcorn and tobacco leaf gave way with a few minutes of air to citrus, apple and melon enveloped in vanilla, butterscotch and oak spice. Medium-full on the palate and nicely textured, with a medium finish, this may integrate a little better with a year in cellar. It tied as second favorite of the flight.

Tinhorn Creek Gewûrztraminer, 2012, Okanagan Valley, #904185, $24.95
Pale straw, floral rose petal, lychee, pear, apricot, citrus, spicy and cotton candy nose. Orchard and citrus fruit and spicy on the palate with a fennel note on a medium warm finish. This wine was the flight favorite with almost half of the group.

Second Flight

Chapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, Mclaren Vale, South Australia, #965830, $24.95
Deep ruby, purple tinged. Palate showed blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate, green herb, oak spice, leather, black cherry nose. Medium- full body with currant, blackberry, graphite and spice. Good balance of fruit, acidity and slightly green tannins, this may improve with a few years cellaring and drink well for five more after. It was the least favourite wine of the flight, but a very nice wine; comments were that it was nicely complex and well structured.

Crognolo Tenuta Sette Ponti, 2010, Tuscany, #727636, $24.95
Deep ruby, nose showing cherry, berry, currant, spice, dusty minerality, chocolate, balsamic note, tobacco, savoury herb/sage notes. Repeat on the palate, savoury, cherry, spice, velvety smooth mouthfeel, tannins still have grip balanced by the fruit and acidity,this should last into the next decade. This savoury food friendly wine was the flight favorite.

Versado Reserva Malbec, 2010, Lujén De Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, #316984, $59.95
Dark purple, with an intense nose of sweet damson plums, smoke, chocolate, blackberry, wood spice and violet notes. Lots of ripe fruit concentration on the palate, very grapey, with plum and spice with good balance and length. This seemed pretty tightly wound poured straight from bottle and evidently quality wine. The wine’s complexity would likely improve given more air time to evolve and flesh out the palate profile. This wine was the second favorite of the flight, being nice on the palate and having a complex nose.

Third Flight

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial Javier Amescua, 2004, Rioja, Spain, #315531, $38.95
Medium garnet with bricking at the edge. Although tasted blind, there was no mistaking what this was from the fantastic nose of prune, fig, dried cherry/berry, chocolate, baking spice, wood smoke, tobacco/leather and soya sauce. Pretty much a full repeat of flavours on the palate with great balance and a long savoury finish. Although this could cellar for a few more years, this seems to be in its peak drinking window now, and so delicious, why wait. This was the hands down group favorite of the flight if not the night.

Urbina Gran Reserva Especial, 1994, Rioja, Spain, #355743, $46.95
Deep ruby/garnet. Nose was very muted, with some earthy, mushroom notes, but fruit seemed elusive. Palate was dull, with some dried plummy notes, soft tannin and medium acidity on a thin body. Although there was no obvious notable flaw on the nose/palate of Trichloroanisole (TCA)/cork taint, this possibly may be an off bottle, especially when it was revealed what the wine was—a disappointment for sure amongst several attendees. It was the least favorite of the flight, a few people did like the dark chocolate finish.

Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red, 2009, Napa Valley, California, #329375, $159.95
Deep ruby purple, beautiful nose showing cassis, plum, raspberry, cherry, floral and spice. Smooth, round on the palate with lower acidity, with some jammy fruit, but not confected, dried herbs, mineral and nice grip with fine tannins and medium long finish. Well made wine that is approachable now or for short term cellaring. This wine tied for second favorite of the flight.

Quinta Do Portal Vintage Port, 2003, Douro, Portugal, #345041, $58.95
Deep garnet, complex nose showing fig, prune, raisin, cola, black licorice, oxo beef cubes, dark chocolate and wood spice. Full and sweet on the palate with raisin, fig, prune, chocolate dipped cherries, black licorice, black pepper and a long warm finish. Well balanced, drink now and over the next decade with blue cheese, dark chocolate or dried fruit and nuts. This wine tied for second place of the flight, although the piece of fine dark chocolate pairing that accompanied this tasting may have given it an unfair advantage. An excellent ending to a wonderful evening of some great wines.