Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Report from ... Charton Hobbs / Authentic Wine and Spirits Tasting - September 22, 2008

The last time I saw Roy Thompson Hall this filled with wine the Italians had taken it over, or was that the Germans ... whoever it was Roy Thompson makes for an interesting place to have a tasting because of its round corridor which allows you to wonder about and not miss a thing. Unlike square room venues, where somebody can be tucked into the corner and you can go right by them, or a multi-level venue where you have no idea there is a second floor. Anyway, today brought together Charton Hobbs and Authentic Wine and Spirits for a tasting of their premium portfolios: general list, vintages and some consignment products. There were also quite a few surprising sneak previews of stuff that should be on the shelves “soon”. Of the many wines I tasted, here are the ones I found most appealing and the skinny on each:

Red Diamond Merlot (Washington) - $14.95 – LCBO coming 2009 - this was quite a surprise, a Washington Merlot for under $15 and soon to be widely available ... sweet red fruit smooth on the palate with a chocolate cherry finish ... if there is any justice in the world this wine will fly off the shelves.

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon (California) - $19.95 - Vintages 342428 - the newest incarnation of this wine is better than the last ... cherry, plums and other red fruits. An organic wine from California doesn't have to mean lacking flavor, this one proves it ... look for the new cleaner, brighter label, which ditches the earth tones for white.

Sancerre Les Baronnes 2007 (France) - $24.95 - Vintages 542548 - a beautiful grapefruit citrus taste and smell which gives you a sweet and sour sensation on the tongue, while finishing off nice and crisp. Good balance to this wine.

Bouchard Aine and Fils Beaujolais Superiore (France) - $12.60 – LCBO 9431 - nice fruit, a bubble gum-like nose with strawberry/raspberry flavours.

Jaffelin Puilly Fuisse (France) - $35.95 – LCBO 242909 - the nose gives nothing away while the palate does all the talking with tropical fruit along with apples and peaches good acidity and a good finish.

Le Veille Ferme Red 2006 (France) - $11.55 – LCBO 263640 - one of my very first loves, from many years ago, in the French wine category … this one still offers a lot for a little – good fruit, nice flavors and easy on the palate.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Sinards (France) - $38.95 – Vintages 926626 – they called this "a baby Beaucastel”, deep rich fruit, tasty and spicy.

Sogrape Douro Reserva Red 2002 (Portugal) - $18.95 - Vintages 335208 - this smooth and easy palate pleaser offers plums and raspberries on the tongue ... very fruit driven.

Newton Chardonnay Unfiltered 2006 (California) - $59.95 - Vintages December 2008 – big alcohol (15%) rich fruit in the form of sweet apple, then comes the big buttery, caramel, and butterscotch barrel notes … this one's big from start to finish.

Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Reserve 2006 (Argentina) - $19.95 – Vintages December 2008 - a steal at twice the price; good black fruit dominant wine with sweet plums and blackberries, all culminating in a beautifully long finish ... great value and much better than its measly $20.00 price tag lets on. My advice: pick up more than one.

Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (California) - $34.95 - Vintages November 2008 – smooth black fruit and chocolate notes, good length of finish - delicious and ageworthy.

Mommessin Cote du Rhone (France) - $11.20 – LCBO 14829 - light, fruity with good cherry and other red fruits, this one's palate friendly and chillable; it's got a short finish but who cares, you'll just want more anyway.

Louis Bernard Cote du Rhone Villages (France) - $12.75 – LCBO 391458 - concentrated red fruit gives good intensity of flavor with plums and red berries too - dry with pleasant tannins on the finish.

De Loach Zinfandel (California) - $15.95 – LCBO coming soon - keep your eyes peeled for this great value Zin soon to be on the general list. With its plums, cherry-cola, blackberry and hints of chocolate and vanilla its sure to be a hit. Fruit for this wine is sourced from all over California including Lodi, Russian River and the North Coast.

Ornellaia 2005 (Italy) - $159.95 - Vintages November 2008 - I see why people pay that kind of money for this wine - it is superb and beyond description: big, rich and full in the mouth ... it has the wow factor in spades.

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