Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vinexx Fall Tasting – October 30, 2007

Vinexx is a Hamilton based agency whose claim to fame is a goodly amount of luck with the LCBO. The reason I say that is that of the 36 wines tasted at this event, 32 are, or will be, at some point during the year, on LCBO shelves (either through Vintages (V) or on the General List (GL)), you just have to find that impressive. Last time through the Vinexx line-up in the Spring (see previous report) I was impressed with not only the quality of the wines being poured but the prices as well. Again I find myself in the same boat, tonight there was only one wine listed above $30, while the majority were under $20. This little fact bodes well that Vinexx, will at one point or another, put a bottle of wine in your hands, as many folks still base their wine purchase on price; and the average purchase price for most of us ranges between $10 and $20 (I include myself in here too) … see what I’m saying?

Vinexx isn’t country specific in the wines they’re offering up, they bring us wines from all over the world: France, Italy, Spain, California and Canada (Chateau des Charmes) … their criteria seems to be good wines at good prices and they are constantly on the hunt for them, no matter where they are from. Finally, at this year’s event the big news was announced in their program: Vinexx has “joined forces with Torion” thus expanding their portfolio. That’s why I say again: At some point or another Vinexx will probably put a bottle of wine your hands. So let’s take a sip through and see what you should be rushing out to buy:

We Start Out with Bubbly …

Two sparklers were poured, both from France, and the one from Limoux won out over the one from Alsace. Made from 90% Mausac with a touch of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc added for extra flavours. This bubbly is a toasty, creamy citrus affair that’s usually available in the summertime through Vintages: Les Vignes Vergnes de Martinalles 2005 Blanquette de Limoux Brut ($15.95 - #914473 – V).

Lively and Lovely Whites …

Eleven whites were on display and three caught my palate. Alois Lageder 2005 Chardonnay ($20.95 - #30312 – V) from Italy; lots of stony tree fruit on the nose with apples and pears on the palate, quite fruity and enjoyable. From California comes Calera Wine Company’s 2005 Chardonnay ($22.95 - #713313 – V) much more heavily oaked than it’s Italian counterpart, spending 9 months in French wood, of which 10% is new. This treatment makes it smell like vanilla and butterscotch with flavours that are buttery soft with tree and tropical fruits – do I taste banana? I think I do. Finally, Errazuriz Ovalle, which produced one of my favourite reds at the last tasting, pairs up a white to go with that red (reviewed later) in the form of this 2006 Panul Sauvignon Blanc ($14.58 – consignment only). A nose that’s more tropical fruit (read: pineapple) than the usual citrus found in Savvy B. these days, along with some lush, plush tropical fruit sweetness in the mouth, pineapple with a pink grapefruit finish; quite the Sunday afternoon sipper.

Red Cappers …

Amongst the 22 reds tasted I could easily have picked half (or more) to write up, but I narrowed it down to these 7:

Two consignment wines kick us off; the Sherwood Estates 2005 Pinot Noir from New Zealand ($22.95) spends only 2 months in French oak, so it remains fruit dominant on both the nose and taste. There are some violet notes mingling with the red fruit on the nose, while the mouth has just the faintest touch of earthiness in and amongst all that red fruit with a seemingly sweet fruity finish – smooth, delicious, delicate and lovely.

The other consignment red is the pal of that Chilean Savvy B., Errazuriz Ovalle 2005 Panul Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.98) – pure Chilean here, with menthol, eucalyptus and chocolate on the nose, black and red fruit on the palate with a touch of menthol and good tannins that’ll see this one surviving in the cellar for a couple of years at least.

Spain provided two highlights during this portfolio tasting. The $14.95 Bodega Y Vinedos de Murcia 2004 Dominio de la Peseta (#31526 – V) is light, fruity and ultimately chillable with lots of red fruit on the finish. The other was the one I ran out the next day to buy, the Bodega Matarromera 2003 Emina Crianza ($18.95 - #993220 –V) what a stunner. After spending 12 months in oak, this 100% Tempranillo from Spain has developed a beautiful nose of black and red fruits, spicy cinnamon and a layer of oakyness. But a wine in nothing if it does not deliver on the promise the nose offers up and in the mouth this one does. Herbs and spice wrap that red fruit in a light blanket and caresses it along to a smooth sweet mid-palate before finishing with a touch of tannin. This one has elegance and finesse wrapped up in a tall thin bottle (still 750ml) – and it’s a keeper for at least another 5 years.

Now we get away from finesse to enjoy a little power and fruit forwardness, namely Australia and California. Hugh Hamilton Wines Jim Jim Shiraz was a pick in my October 27th Vintages report ($14.95 - #682005 – V) … this “down under dog” has pepper, red fruit, cherries and chocolate to spare, and what a great value in an Aussie Shiraz these days, which can easily find themselves north of $20, for a good one at least – which this one is … so pick this puppy up and give him a good home.

Vinexx brings in 2 from Californian producer Cline, the general list 2005 Zinfandel ($13.40 - #489278 – GL) another great value with cherries, plums, raisins and a touch of rum and cola on the nose – peppers and herbs fill the mouth along with plums, cola and vanilla flavours. Looking for a Zin with a little oomph!? Check out the Cline 2005 Ancient Vines Zinfandel (another Vintage report pick – Oct. 13) - $18.95 - #719211 – V. Made with 80-to-100 year old vines and spending 10 months in American oak, this baby is plumy and jammy with strawberries as its dominant red fruit … vanilla, caramel and chocolate also get into the act giving it a great sweet-like mid-palate that brings to mind the delicious flavours of mocha … yum.

Thanks to Vinexx (905-525-1113) for a great tasting and 7 Windows restaurant in Hamilton for the food and hosting … see you next time.

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