Thursday, February 12, 2009

Report from ... Osoyoos-Larose Release and Tasting – February 3, 2009

In his opening remarks, Antoine Merlaut (managing director of Group Taillan) said, “When I pour this wine for people they say ‘I didn’t know Canada made wine’ or the more knowledgeable know about icewine ... I will be happy when Canada is known as a wine producing country all over the world.” With that he thanked the crowd and took his seat at the 5th vintage release / 10th Anniversary of Osoyoos Larose – a partnership between Vincor Canada and Groupe Taillan of Bordeaux. From humble beginnings in 1998, their first vintage of 3700 6-bottle cases in 2001 (released spring 2004) to the now 20,000 cases of the 2005 Grand Vin (released last year in B.C. – February 28 in Vintages in Ontario) and 8000 cases of the second label Petales d’Osoyoos (available on consignment), Osoyoos-Larose has made quite a name for itself. Last year they showed up to launch the 2004 vintage – if you wish to read further background from my previous story click here.

We were informed that Osoyoos-Larose had just beat out Opus One in a recent tasting in Japan, where the wine fetches $120USD – which makes our $50 a bottle price tag seem like a real bargain. Of course this is significantly less than what a bottle of Opus One will set you back in either country. O-L is now sold in five countries (Canada, France, U.K., U.S. and Japan) with the majority sold in Canada (85%).

Some interesting pieces of info came from the presentation this year – and not just the numbers - the principals behind the wines Alain Sutre (Technical Project Manager) and Pascal Madevon (Winemaker and vineyard manager) were quite candid with their remarks.

On growing Cabernet Sauvignon in their vineyards: “’06 was the first time we really understood the Cabernet Sauvignon [in relation to the terroir].” – Alain Sutre.

On pressing: “We are moving back towards using a basket press, we get better results especially with respect to Le Grand Vin. When we basket press 70% of the juice goes into Le Grand Vin while 30% ends up in the Petales; using the pneumatic press those numbers are reversed. By 2010 all the wine will be basket pressed.” – Alain Sutre

On closures: “Never synthetic, they are a misery, horrible; always cork on the Grand Vin … [pause] … maybe screw cap on the Petales in the future, but we have no plans to do that at the moment.” – Alain Sutre.

On ageing of the wines: “My feeling is that 10-15 years will improve these wines; we don’t have the track record, but my experience with the 2001, which I serve at home, is drinking fantastic now after 8 years … so I’d have to say they will age very well.” – Pascal Madevon

As for the tasting, we tried the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 (barrel sample); along with the 2005 Petales over lunch … The Petales is drinking beautifully right now and will continue to develop over the next 3-4 years; it has beautiful red fruit, herbs and cherries on the nose; the palate was loaded with cherry and what Bud Light commercials call “Drinkability” – this wine was decanted which added an extra level of complexity … delicious.

Of the Grand Vin the 2005 (soon to be released in Ontario) is drinking very well with a soft nose of red fruit, oak, spices and nutmeg; while the palate shows a bit of a greenness with nice acidity, big tannins and drying finish.

The 2006 is going to be a monster, with a closed nose that hints at what’s to come: tobacco, blackberries and cinnamon, this wine has a quiet disposition that will roar in time. The palate is also a quiet lamb biding its time … big blackberry, lots of wood, plenty of tannins and a firm disposition. I see this one being able to sit longer than any previous vintage of this wine.

The 2007 was still too young to properly evaluate.

Once again Pascal and his team have created world class wines that all of Canada and and should be proud of.

No comments: