Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Report from: Vinexx Wine Tasting – April 24, 2007

I have to admit that I had never heard of Vinexx (a wine agent based out of Hamilton) before I attended this tasting of some of the wines in their portfolio. As I walked from table to table I quickly realized that though I didn’t recognize Vinexx, I sure did recognize the wines they represent, many of which appear regularly on Vintages shelves and some on the general list. So without further ado I give you my highlights of the day’s tastings so that you can rush right out and pick some up, or in the case of upcoming wines, make plans to pick some up soon.

Starting things off was the Bailly-Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne Non-Vintage Reserve Brut from France, a delicious blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay and 20% Aligote made in the traditional sparkling wine method. It’s apple and toasty nose and taste were a welcome beginning to the day, and at $17.95 (750ml) or $9.95 (375ml) it represents a true bargain in sparklers at the LCBO – the half bottle is good for sharing or drinking on your own without fear of bubble-loss the next day. Coming in May (#641423). The Rose version of this wine, made from Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir (#33985), will be arriving at the same time so that you have a choice between the white and the pink. The pink has good strawberry and raspberry notes and is selling for the same price – but I think my preference is for the white.

Let’s stay with the whites for a bit and look at some the still wines. The Tinhorn Creek 2005 Pinot Gris (#530683 – now available - $18.15) is a beautiful fruit forward wine with fresh pears, lime and apricot on the nose, and a tropical fruit with lime taste. I have heard through the grapevine (so to speak) that British Columbia winemakers are trying to make Gris their grape and if this is the kind of wine they’re making with it, I say more power to them.

As everyone knows by now, New Zealand makes some of the best Sauvignon Blanc, but they’re also making a name for themselves with Pinot Noir. Today two were being poured, but only one caught my fancy, the Sherwood Estates 2005 Pinot Noir from Marlborough ($21.95 – consignment), this flavourful Pinot is available by consignment only, which means you’ll have to contact Vinexx directly (see below) … the wine is elegant and fruit driven, with an earthy, raspberry nose and more raspberry in the mouth … it’s a tasty little sucker to say the least.

Chile is all the rage these days, proving themselves to be quite adept with almost anything they put their grape-stained mitts on. The newest grape to show signs of life in Chile is Sauvignon Blanc and this Errazuriz Ovalle 2006 Panul Sauvignon Blanc is stunning, especially when you consider its $13.95 (+GST – consignment only) price tag. My notes say “very nice” in the margin, but that’s not enough to describe this one … think of grassy, grapefruit and guava notes with a slightly sweet fruit finish, though still rated as a zero on the sugar-scale, this great summer sipper has a medium-short finish and is as elegant as any Sauvignon Blanc you’ll find in that price range. If there is any justice in the world this wine would find it’s way onto every patio come the hot weather. Speaking of justice and a wine that should be on every table the red sibling to the Sauvignon Blanc, the Errazuriz Ovalle 2005 Panul Cabernet Sauvignon from Marchigue, Coastal Colchuagua, Chile, is really the wine find of the day. At $13.95, it packs a lot of wine for not a lot of coin: raspberry, cassis, allspice, menthol and eucalyptus on the nose, the taste of chocolate, red fruit and red licorice in the mouth … this award winning quaffer has taken 2 bronze and a gold at some very prestigious shows – pick this one up, you won’t be sorry (consignment only) ... and you’ll be the hit of any party, especially your own.

Flip flopping between whites and reds seems to be the way this review is going but I have one more white to showcase before carrying on with 4 reds. Fitz-Ritter 2004 Riesling Kabinett from Germany (#28498 - $16.15) is currently available and is really good value in a German Riesling. A soft nose reveals little about the wine but the taste is tropical fruit, mineral, some petrol and above all, delicious – what more can I say?

I’m going to end this tour of the Vinexx portfolio by staying in Europe for four more wines from France (3) and Spain (1). First, a Maison Sichel 2003 Chateau Labadie (#35741 – available June 2007 - $20.15) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (43%), Merlot (50%), Cabernet franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (3%) – figs, blackberries, currants and raspberries tickle the nose, while spicy oak and black fruit dance on the tongue … it’s the wine of the month for June at Vintages and I can really taste why they chose it, good value, good wine.

France is also the home for Chateau Constantin Chevalier 2003 Cuvee des Fondateurs (#28361 - $20.15) also available in June. This one has a sweet front and mid-palate dominated by red fruits … the tannins make a late appearance in the mouth, but don’t hinder the clean finish in the slightest.

Let’s look at one more from France, Chateau D’Argaden 2003, released scheduled for May 2007 (#681643 - $17.95) offers good value in a Merlot (55%)/Cab Sauv (45%) blend. Using both new (30%) and aged (60%) oak, the wine has a complex red fruit and spice nose with good tannins integrated between black fruit and oak – Yum.

Finally we head south to Spain, where the perennial favourite, Vina Bajoz 2003 Crianza (#930438 - $15.95) is not only good value, it’s one tasty wine. Made from the tempranillo grape this wine shows black licorice and spice on the nose with mostly cherries and strawberries on the taste; buy some and take it with you to your first summer BBQ where red meat will be the staple, better yet bring two, this one will go very nicely thank you very much.

Vinexx is bringing good wines into Canada, and best of all into Vintages stores so that they are easily accessible. While they may not be a household name let’s thank them for bringing good wines at affordable prices into our households and onto our tables. Cheers.

No comments: