Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Select Wines Web Launch – October 24, 2007

Select Wines have a new look. After 25 years on the job of putting good value wines from all over the world in the hands of Canadians – Select Wines launched a more interactive, user friendly, easily updateable website (, by inviting folks down to their office for a launch party, which included a boardroom table of nibblies and a few bottles of wine in each of their offices (I’m sure this is commonplace at a wine agent, though these bottle were open) … the real surprise was the best taste of the day wasn’t a grape wine.

Highlights of the office-roam-about were:

An Italian Nero d’Avola from Montalto (#621151 - $8.95) light, fruity and very chillable with an incredible price to value ratio.

A German Spatlese from Gustav Adolf Schmitt (#262337 - $10.75) a Riesling with a good sweet peach and apple nose and taste that’s not overpoweringly sweet on either nose or palate. Soft and supple in the mouth, almost creamy.

A preview of Delicato’s 2006 Gnarly Head “Old Vines Zinfandel” (#678698 - $17.75) a previous wine of the month at Vintages (at least the 2005 version was); this one’s more plum and red cherry on the nose with plumy, spicy, black cherries in the mouth … a wonderful product year-in and year-out.

Or how about Sebastiani’s Sonoma County Merlot (#3219162 - $20.75) a perennial favourite with hold-ability to spare … with tastes of black fruit throughout.

Select also handles an Australian favourite, St. Hallett’s Blackwell Shiraz (#535104 - $29.75) what a wine … all you’d expect from the Aussies … the new home for Shiraz – wrestling away that mantle from the unsuspecting French. A nose of black fruit, cassis, chocolate and pepper; and a palate that lingers with all those flavours and plenty more.

The taste sensation of the afternoon had nothing to do with grapes though; in fact it also wasn’t from anywhere you’d expect. Instead of coming from a wine powerhouse like California, Australia, Chile, or France it comes from Japan’s Gekkeikan Company. To start, there was the light, easy drinking and refreshing Kirin Ichiban beer (#676627 - $10.35 for 6), meant to be sushi’s palate cleansing partner. Then there was Gekkeikan’s real coup: Zipang sparkling sake (private order only) – the most unique taste sensation I’ve ever experienced. A 7% alcoholic beverage with the typical rice wine smells you attribute to sake, but with a clean, refreshing sparkle in the mouth (fizz made via the tank method); fresh fruity flavours that are most reminiscent of Bosc pear and light lemon syrup. This taste is not cheap, a 250ml bottle will set you back 12 or 13 bucks, but something you should experience at least once.

By the way, the name Zipang, according to my host, comes from the 12th century Chinese name for the “golden country” over the mountains, we now call it Japan.

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