Monday, October 6, 2008

Report from ... Vinexx Tasting, Toronto - September 24, 2008

Vinexx has a semi-annual tasting schedule: once in the fall and once in the spring. Many of the wines they showcase in the spring reappear in the fall, some in the form of a new vintage, while others continue unchanged from the last show. This time out I was looking forward to the 2005 E. Guigal (the general list one) that I was told last spring would be in wide release come the fall and is "spectacular"; but the LCBO is still in to the throes of clearing out the ’04 so that was the one for tasting - guess I’ll have to wait for the spring event to get my first sip at this wine. But enough about my disappointments, here's what's coming in, or is here and available through Vinexx this time …

My favorite part of the Vinexx tasting, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, is that the majority of their products are available at the LCBO, which means you can pick stuff up pretty readily (even on your way home if you chose) - though I've also bought some consignment and private order booze from them before. My first three recommendations are consignment wines (waiting at the LCBO warehouse, but not on the LCBO shelves – and available only to Vinexx customers). One of my recommendations I bought in the spring and tastes even better now, so I re-ordered some: the Canyon Oaks 2006 Zinfandel, with its sweet cherry, plum, vanilla-cola and raspberry smells and tastes ... sure it's up a buck ($13.80) but it’s still an excellent value in an everyday Zin. Also on consignment is the Errazuriz Ovalle 2007 Panul Sauvignon Blanc ($14.65) from Chile, with its ripe rich peach on the nose and lemon-citrus finish; the Canyon Oaks 2007 Chardonnay ($13.80) makes a good companion to the Zin, its very appealing with lemon, apple and vanilla leading the way on smell; wood, butter, butterscotch and all over-rpe apple taking charge on the taste.

Those who can wait a little longer for their premium wines might look into private order (agent orders directly from the winery, these wines take a little longer to come into Ontario, so don’t expect anything right away – but most are worth it). All of what Vinexx had were wines by the case from California. There's the Dutton Goldfield 2006 Morelli Lane Zinfandel ($590.00 for 12) with its red plum, cherry and chocolate flavours. Then they had wines from former Doobie Brothers manager B. R. Cohn and they were all excellent: the 2007 Russian River Chardonnay ($360.00 for 12) had nice fruit and hints of vanilla absorbed in from the oak, the 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir ($595.00 for 12) with a red fruit, vanilla and cinnamon tinge that was incredibly smooth, and the 2006 Sonoma County Merlot ($485.00 for 12) with cherry, chocolate and fine tannins. But the real highlight of the private order line-up were the single vineyard Cline Cellars Zinfandels: 2006 Live Oak ($229.50 for 6 or $38.00 a bottle) with chocolate, plum, cherry, a good nose and wonderfully smooth palate; while the go-back-to wine of the night was the 2006 Big Break Zinfandel (same price as the Live Oak) - this one was bigger and more over the top with richness than its counterpoint: minty, chocolaty, plum, red fruit and a touch of eucalyptus, which comes naturally from the eucalyptus tree lined vineyard ... also it has a whopping fifteen percent alcohol.

The Rest of the Wines (LCBO or Vintages) ...

Jean-Luc Baldes 2005 Le Petit Clos “Cuvee Plaisir” ($17.95 - 76414 – France) - a nose of cedar, vanilla and blackberry delivers tough tannins, black fruit and plenty of ageability.

Cline Cellars 2005 Ancient Vines Mourvedre ($17.95 – 66084 – California) – plumy, jammy, raspberry, black fruit with a touch of vanilla … a little bit of sweetness on the palate leads to a dry finish - Zin fans should check this out.

Cline Cellars 2007 Syrah ($12.95 – 733758 – California) – top value at Vintages. Sweet fruit with a peppered finish - red berry with a touch of black - so good, especially for the price.

Bodegas Muga 2004 Muga Reserva ($23.95 – 177345 – Spain) - blackberry and other black fruits with spices, herbs and good tannin structure, though it needs some time - five plus years easy.

Bodegas Emina 2005 Prestige ($24.95 – 67066 – Spain) - made from Tinta del Pais (aka Tempranillo) with sixteen months in French oak, resulting in smooth blackberries and chocolate, silky tannins and a hint of vanilla – very fruit forward but with ageability to spare ... another five plus year wine. Good value for what you get here.

Graham Beck Wines 2003 Rhona Muscadel ($21.80 – 607739 - South Africa - 500ml) - this sweet dessert wine has honey, orange zest, apricot and clove on the nose, honey, pear, apricot and a long spice-driven finish.

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