Monday, April 21, 2008

Report from ... Vinexx Spring Tasting – April 17, 2008

I am once again wading out into consignment waters and ordering a case of wine with a good friend of mine (we’ll call him Jason) who works for a large liquor monopoly (to protect him I will not name the company). But seriously the Vinexx tasting is one of those that I look forward to all year (good thing they have it twice a year or the wait would be un-bearable). Good wines, reasonable price-points and much of it available at the local liquor hut. This year’s tasting took place in the Observation Lounge of Spencer’s on the Waterfront in Burlington. 19 degrees outside, a nice breeze blowing in off the water – a fine day to have a glass of wine, or 39 – which is the number of wines that were on display for tasting. Below are some of my value picks and most are easily accessible at the you-know-where.

Starting the day off with bubbly is always a treat, and the Graham Beck 2005 Brut Rosé ($21.95 - #4085) really hit the spot with its fresh fruit and lively flavour – maybe the hint of something sweet on the tongue is what makes this a great starter.

Table 1 … Light and White
Two easy recommends here. The Hugh Hamilton 2007 Jim Jim Chardonnay ($13.95 - #58537) is delightfully fresh and fruity with apple nuances that dance on the tongue and make you think of summer. Same can be said for the Errazuriz Ovalle 2006 Panul Sauvignon Blanc ($14.45 - consignment) – crisp, grassy, green apple, grapefruit with just a titch of sweetness on the mid-palate before it finishes citrusy and dry; great for a hot summer’s day. One other wine caught my attention, the Canyon Oaks 2006 Chardonnay ($13.39 – consignment) … fresh and tropical with mid-weight oak … it’s a typical Cali-Chard without the typical Cali-price.

Table 2 … Aromatic Whites
The Chateau des Charmes 2006 Gewurztraminer ($19.95 – winery) is a real winner with its palate-pleasing taste, but the nose is a little closed. The Sherwood Estate 2007 Riesling ($17.95 - #58636) has the opposite situation – a nose to die for that smells Gewurzt-like with florally-rose petals – the palate comes off a little soft, lacking the biting acidity of long ageable Riesling … but this off-dry New Zealander is perfect for right now patio consumption.

Table 3 … Our First Look at Reds
Two from table three and a tip from Steve. First, the Cline 2006 Syrah ($12.85 - #733758) – great price for this wine that’s good anytime – pepper, black fruit, plumy, smooth and easy going down – and check out that price – drink now or buy a bunch and drink over the next 3-5 years. For a few dollars more you can get a blend of Shiraz (52%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (48%) in the Graham Beck 2006 Dual Varietal ($15.85 - #661835) – this has good red fruit with just a tad of spicy – this one’s BBQ-ready. My tip of the day came from Stevie D.: The E. Guigel Cotes-Du-Rhone 2005 is coming mid-summer and it is “awesome” ($16.60 - #259721) – look for it and I’ll have a review just as soon as I taste it at the September Vinexx showing.

Table 4 … Red Values
Once again the Errazuriz Ovalle Panul Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.45 – consignment) is a bargain red this year. There are a few cases left of the ’05, which is currently the complete package with minty-eucalyptus, black fruit and out of this world smoothness that includes chocolate and blackberries … the ’06 is more black fruit dominated on the nose but the eucalyptus-mint comes through on the palate – give it 6-8 months and it should be showing somewhere around where the ’05 is now … and perfect for winter consuming (did I say that out loud this early in April?). Graham Beck pulls out the trifecta in the room with their third wine I recommend – the 05 and 06 Railroad Red ($12.20 - #665273) both are spicy and peppery, but where you’ll notice the real difference is in the packaging – they’ve gone screwcap in ’06 with a cleaner more mature looking label. Classy. A few months back I recommended the Errazuriz Ovalle 2004 Marchigue Cab Franc / Petit Verdot ($13.85 - #48298) in my Vintages report. I’ll recommend it again here with its raspberry-strawberry and chocolate taste, smooth as silk and interesting in the mouth, tasty to the last drop … for those keeping score, that is the third Errazuriz Ovalle I’ve recommended too.

Table 5 … Classy Reds with Heft and Price
Voyager Estates 2003 Cabernet-Merlot from Australia ($32.95 - #725721) was one of the best over $30 wines in the room (granted there were only 4 in total) – a blend of 85/15 Cab to Merlot that is smooth and rich in the mouth with red and black fruit, chocolate, herbal notes and plenty of polish. For the cellar you could easily lie down the Bodegas Muga 2004 Muga Reserva from Spain ($23.95 - #177345) – plenty of rip-roarin’ tannins here that have black fruit and cedar backing it up – this one could easily be enjoyed up to 10 years later.

My Consignment Purchase …
So back to my story … for the second time I am buying/sharing a case of wines with a buddy from the Vinexx Tasting – my first was the 2005 Panul Cabernet Sauvignon (which I am glad to taste is coming into its own) … this time it’s a wonderful bargain Zinfandel from Canyon Oaks … not the pink stuff people – this one’s made the way a Zin is suppose to be: luscious, plumy, red fruit and yummy to the core; good for burgers, salmon, pizza, ribs – a bar-be-quer’s dream wine. 6 months in oak has added a vanilla layer and 5% of a specific wine style adds a touch of umph! to this baby. All at $13.39 a bottle (taxes, delivery included) - $160.68 a case – this wine will be on my patio table or beside my BBQing tools all summer long. And if you are worried about the heavy alcohols that zins are notorious for, that make you logy and tired, have no fear this one’s a very respectable 13.5%. I can hear the sizzle of the grill now.

See you in the fall.

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