Thursday, May 15, 2008

Report from ... Sante International Tasting – May 7, 2008

Sante turned 10 this year and to celebrate the occasion both Australia and California were selected as co-featured regions – which means a night was dedicated to Californian wines and another to Australian. For those who have been living in a cave the past 10 years, Sante is the International Wine Festival of Toronto; think of it as the Toronto International Film Festival of the wine world. Celebrity winemakers, producers and owners show up to pour and talk about their wines – showcasing wines that will (hopefully) one day grace the shelves of the LCBO – if they aren’t already there. Hundreds of wines are poured during this week-long event, below are some of my favourites tasted during the media preview:

Australia …
The Aussies still make some of the most popular wines on the LCBO shelves, and around the world – here are some you should be looking for.

Hardy Wine Company Barossa Valley Estate 2005 E Minor ($17.95)
- coming June 2008, good red and black fruit, nice and easy drinking

Jacob’s Creek 2005 Reserve Shiraz ($17.95)
- on the general list right now – smooth, good tannins, white pepper, nice finish

Clarence Hill 2005 Chardonnay ($16.95)
- worth searching out in a restaurant – lovely tropical fruit – and only 8 months in oak

Wyndham Estate 2004 George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve Shiraz
- complex nose and taste with red berries and fruit, chocolate and some herbs in the mix

Gemtree Vineyards had 2 good wines on display:
Bloodstone 2006 Shiraz ($17.00)
- soft, fruity effort, good red fruit with cherries and herbs
Uncut Shiraz 2006 ($26.00)
- 16 months in oak - great fruit, lovely soft tannins – a blockbuster of a wine.

DogRidge Wine Company had three reds on the table that clean swept the competition:
The $20 Pup Shiraz – smooth red fruit with minor pepper tones
The $40 Digs Shiraz – sweet mouth with spicy-chocolaty notes
The $80 MVP Shiraz – great cellaring potential, herbs, spice, dark fruit, delicious

California …
You can’t put a price on good wine … sounds poetic and romantic but California has found a way to do just that – value is always key to my choices, especially in my own personal cellar, but it doesn’t stop me from liking those high priced monsters that I’ll never be able to afford – plus if you invite me to dinner, I’ll tell you what wine you should be buying for such an occasion.

Tangley Oaks 2005 Merlot ($19.95)
- smooth, chocolate, red and black fruit – coming back to Vintages soon

Thomas Fogarty Winery 2006 Gewurztraminer Monterey
- spicy, slightly floral and very good

Trinchero Family Estates 2006 Menage a Trois
- always a favourite, three grapes blended together to make this rich tasty wine

Chimney Rock 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon SLD ($51.95)
- this beauty has lush tannins, chocolate and black fruit

Chimney Rock 2004 Elevage ($72.00)
- same profile as above, but smoother, richer, fuller and more elegance

Heitz Cellars 2002 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($230.00)
- they’re one ‘n’ away from making great ketchup, but this is a stunning spicy black fruit age-worthy number that’ll be around for many years to come

The Rest of the World of Wine …
While the Calis and the Aussies battled it out for shear volume on the floor other parts of the world put their best value wines forward to battle these new world giants … some were old world treasures and some were new world newcomers, but all knew the definition of value in the bottle.

Los Arboles 2006 Malbec (Argentina) - $12.95
- general list - easy, fruit forward, nothing over the top just a great everyday value sipper

Tsantali 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Organic (Italy) - $17.55
- availability limited – best wine of the show, spicy, black fruit, rich tannins, good oaking

Coyam Red 2005 (Chile) - $24.95
- Vintages … another organic beauty, blackberries, chocolate, herbs, spice – wrapped up beautifully in the mouth.

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