Vintages Pre-Release Tasting—Iconic Wines

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reported by Bruce Ewen

First Flight

2013 Cave de Ribeauville Pinot Gris, Alsace
This flight’s favorite. Nice body, zippy and fresh tasting. Straw yellow in colour, clear. Lighter mouthfeel then one would typically expect with a Pinot Gris. And this really is not a typical Pinot Gris. Nice aromas of flowers, peaches, citrus, honey, and a whiff of bubble gum. Very pleasant sipping type of wine with some residual sugar, but not sweet. The acidity is juicy and keeps the sweetness in balance. Tastes of apples, light peaches, lemony. Nice pleasant finish with spices at the end. Well balanced, round, refreshing and easy drinking. Great value for the money.

2012 Salomon-Undhof Alte Reben Gruner Veltliner, DAC Kremstal
Several had this as their favourite white wine of the flight. Straw yellow in colour, with almost a green tinge to the colour. Showed slight petrol aromas as well as grassy, oaky, smokey, lanolin, with a tinge of vegetal at the end. Good acidity, a bit of heat on the finish. More depth of flavours on this wine then the first wine. Green apples, grapefruit, pepper spice, and chewy peach flavours (unripe peaches?). Grassy and some minerality. Very nice wine that continued to develop in the glass as it opened up.

2010 Domaine Michel Caillot La Barre Dessus-Clos Meursault
The yin of the Pahlmeyer (see below) yang. A pale yellow colour. An odd citrusy, dusty, vegetal, minerally aroma. One described it as being a subtle aroma of a dryer sheet. Flavours of slight butterscotch, lemon oil, sulfur and a waxy citrus. But if you left this to sit for an hour, the wine really opened up . Amazing in my opinion. Aromas turned more floral, with a wet stone/ steeliness, freshness, citrusy, grassy herbs. With flavours of zesty lemon, apricots, pears, toast, steely minerality. Balanced and fresh with a long finish. Good structure with medium oak, and great acidity (nice spritz/zest/freshness to the wine). However, on the initial taste, this wine was not a favorite among the tasters. Although after getting air, it became my favorite. This should age well

2012 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, Napa Valley
A favorite of a third of the tasters. Dull golden yellow, cloudy (as it is unfiltered) in appearance. Aromas of toffee, buttered popcorn, citrus/ lemon and orange zest. A “thick” or heavy aroma. This is one of the styles of California Chardonnay that has become popular over the years. Aged in French oak, and it underwent malolactic fermentation. It is a big burly rich chard with buttery, toffee, oaky, nuttiness and vanilla flavors. Lots of tropical fruits and citrus notes. Thick mouthfeel. Heat on the finish, but the finish is lengthy (is that because of the oak or the fruit?). Some will love this style. Some will not like the style.

Second Flight

The next two wines were actually from the Nouvelle Beaujolais release earlier in November. Simple wines meant for short term drinking. While neither was complex, both were what they were—simple decent wines to be quaffed in short order. So pour a glass and relax. And their prices are pretty easy on the wallet.

2014 Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
Light bright red/purple in colour. Fresh, dry and floral flavours. Some beetroot, cranberry and a nice minerality/wet stone/herbs. Pop and pour. Light bodied.

2014 Cantina Negra Novello Del Veneto
From Italy (Valpolicella region). A pale ruby. Earthier then the other Nouveau. Simple wine of cranberry and red fruit flavours, with some minerality. Light bodied.

Third Flight

All four reds in this flight were well received, although the most popular were the Faustino and Beaucastel. I was the only one who preferred the Burgundy.

2012 Chateau de Segure Fitou
A very nice wine at a great price. Ruby red, see through a bit so not inky. Red fruit aromas, with cloves, licorice and floral notes. Some found a bit of menthol. Flavours included a bit of sour cherry at the start, red raspberries, licorice and kitchen spices (cloves). Medium bodied, drying and puckering and chewy tannins. Simple red with good complexity. Drinking wine, smooth and easy going. Good wine to serve to the crowd you are having for dinner and easy on the pocketbook.

2001 Faustino I Gran Reserva
A crowd favourite to drink now. Not one for the cellar as this seems to be at its peak now. Garnet in colour and browning on the edges. Aromas of burnt brown sugar, oak and dark fruits. Smells like a typical Rioja. Flavours replay—dark fruits, oak, burnt brown sugar, vanilla, orange rind, tobacco, earth and spices. Good complexity and all wound together in a very balanced flavor. Good smooth tannins, medium acidity. Very nice wine at a good price.

2011 Daniel Rion & Fils Les Grandes Vignes Nuits-Saint Georges
Dull red in colour. Is a bit transparent. Aromas of graphite, ash, red fruits and a bit of stoney minerality. All of this plays through to the flavours. Also some cranberry and cherry, cedar, spices on the finish. Elegant wine. Medium weight. Good structure, soft silky tannins. A bit tight, young wine. Some heat on the finish. Came across initially as young Bordeaux to me. In retrospect, the wine is a bit lighter then Bordeaux, the tannins are softer and the fruit is a bit more bitter. Medium length to finish. All in all a nice wine.

2012 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Dark opaque red colour, but not thick or inky. Layers of aromas of dark fruits and licorice. Full bodied and rich, fresh—not thick or weighty. Some heat on the finish. Flavours of dark fruits, plums, spices (like nutmeg) and pepper. Great structure and probably long aging ahead of it. Drying tannins that were very smooth, dusty. Long finish. Most liked this wine and thought it to be the most expensive (served blind ). Possibly wine of the night with Faustino just behind it.

Fourth Flight

All wines in this last flight were received very well. Carnival of Love slightly edged out the Brezza Barolo and Grant Burge.

2011 Grant Burge The Holy Trinity, Barossa Valley
Ruby coloured. Medium bodied, good structure. Aromas of berry fruit dominate along with an odour of pot pourri. Flavours of blackberry, raspberry, fruit cake, chocolate. Also getting pepper, cedar. Not a heavy handed wine at all. Juicy acidity, medium and subtle tannins. Well balanced, easy drinking with good complexity.

2009 Brezza Sarmassa Barolo
Granite/red in colour, can see through it. Interesting aromas of florals, medicinal, dusty, licorice, oil paint. Many described it as funky. Medium bodied, tight. Flavours of tar, graphite, red fruit, savoury and earthy. Nicely balanced. Basic Barolo. Drying, chewy tannins. Not as deep in complexity as many Barolos. But a very nice drinking wine.

2010 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz
A very interesting textural wine. Its almost like a meal. I don’t know if you could have food with this wine. Very thick, inky and weighty mouthfeel, although not syrupy. Aromas are big and bold, luscious, and rich. Many will like it, many will not. Big and bold and rich flavours of blueberry jam, blackberries, chocolate, licorice. High alcohol level is well hidden, but there is still some heat on the finish. Crazy long finish, dusty tannins, good acidity. This is a massive wine and if you are not fond of the weighty fruit bomb style wine then this is not for you. If you are a fan, but the price is a tad high, then take a look at two other wines available in the LCBO from the same winemaker, Mollydooker (The Boxer Shiraz at $29, and the Maitre D’ Cabernet Sauvignon at $29).

NV Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro
Great little dessert sipper. Deep golden in colour. Beautiful aromas of orange rind, honey, marmalade, cloves, burnt brown sugar. Similar flavours to aroma. Not syrupy but a bit viscous. Nice sweetness with some acidity to help keep it in check —so not cloyingly sweet.