Thursday, November 5, 2009

Report from ... Profile Wine Group Tasting – October 6, 2009

With over 335 wines to taste and a room the size of a football field to taste them in this seemed a daunting task. Profile represents wines from around the world, places such as Argentina, Australia, France, Chile, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States which all make up the Profile Wine Group portfolio; the big question here was, where do I begin? While it would have been nice to try all the wines I decided to focus on a couple of regions we rarely see on the shelves of the LCBO: Washington and Oregon: Amity and Cristom Vineyards (Oregon), Columbia Crest, Gordon Bros., L’ecole #41, and Ste. Michelle Wines (Washington). I tried most if not all the wines at their tables and bring you my thoughts on the best of the bunch.

Amity (Oregon) – 3 wines to taste …
2007 Pinot Blanc ($25.95) – nice floral, kiwi nose with grapefruit flavours.

Columbia Crest (Washington) – 12 wines to taste …
Here I found two interesting versions of Shiraz / Syrah. The 2006 Grand Estate Shiraz ($20.95) was all chocolate, white pepper and very tasty; but between the two I really enjoyed the 2006 Reserve Syrah ($32.95) a wine made in limited quantities, less than 1000 cases a year. This wine was smooth with big fruit and floral aromas, probably from the touch of Viognier added to the wine. There’s also peppery notes along with a floral/violet presence; delicate and delicious. There was also the 2005 Walter Clore Red ($43.95) that utilizes all 5 Bordeaux varietals (Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc) this wine is named for the grandfather of Washington wine, Walter Clore, and has lovely big fruit with licorice and chocolate, I am sure Walter would be proud to have his name on the label.

Cristom Vineyard (Oregon) – 5 wines to taste …
Cristom is a Pinot Noir house from Oregon, here they make 6 different Pinot Noirs: 2 Cuvees and 4 Single Vineyard versions … the style of making the wine is all the same: whole cluster pressed, natural ferments, lightly fined and filtered; what was described to me as “old school style”. 3 of the single vineyard wines I tried were very impressive: 2006 Jessica Vineyard ($59.95) was all creamy raspberries; 2006 Sommer’s Reserve ($47.95) had really good red fruit notes and the 2006 Majorie Vineyard ($59.95), from the plot planted in 1982, had nice cherry, lots of acidity, good minerality and plenty of fine grit from the tannins.

Gordon Bros. (Washington) – 6 wines to taste …
I started with the 2008 Chardonnay ($31.95), which was a very subtle version of the world’s most popular white: creamy, peachy with nice vanilla notes. The 2007 Merlot ($32.95) also didn’t disappoint as an easy sipper with a smooth chocolate character. And finally, the 2006 Syrah ($31.95) really showed the signs of this properly named wine: this one was peppery, smooth with smoked meat nuances, nice tannins and delicious across the tongue.

L’ecole #41 (Washington) – 5 wines to taste …
The 2007 Recess Red ($30.95) is a mixed-bag-of-everything blend which had nice fruit and gritty tannins. The real winner at this table was the 2006 Merlot CV ($42.95) with its nice use of oak and luscious blackberry flavours … this wine is hand-picked with gentle handling throughout its lifespan and that kinda care really shows in the glass.

Ste. Michelle Wines (Washington) – 7 wines to taste …
Seems that Michelle is working with a lot of famous folks with fabulous results. Dr. Loosen helps with the Eroica Riesling ($33.95), which can be mistakenly read off the label as Erotica, so it is not surprising that this wine is both exotic and erotic, in the right moment. I tried the 2008 version, which was stunningly fruity: tropical, pineapple, nice acidity, and a long dry finish … wow – I went back for seconds and thirds. Speaking of famous help, how about the 2005 Col Solare ($96.95), a co-project with Antinori, the 2005 was leathery and chocolaty with nice dark fruit – this is the wine where Washington meets Italy. On their own Michelle makes this delicious 2006 Merlot ($21.95), smooth blackberry, dark chocolate and a lovely smooth finish.

Anything Else to Report? …
There were 9 wineries from California on hand, yet only one had a Zinfandel … Peter Franus 2006 Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel ($47.95), made with 92% Zin and the rest being a mix of Carignan, Mourvedre and Charbono. The vines for the fruit date back to the 1920’s so its not surprising to find a high concentration of fruit flavour and a seam of minerality, also in there you’ll plum, chocolate and vanilla; a lovely fruit driven wine and very tasty version of my favourite California grape.

Can’t Fail to Mention …
Not one to linger at the food stations but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dahso Chocolate et CafĂ© (15 St. Clair West) who provided an array of wrapped truffles that had me wishing I had brought a bigger bag and / or had more pockets for take home enjoyment.

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