Friday, April 16, 2010

Report from ... A Group of 7 from Churchill Cellars – April 12, 2010

It’s the 8th Annual Churchill Cellars Portfolio Tasting, this year it was being held at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on Front Street (in Toronto); eight tables on two floors.  I guess that’s the way they make sure you don’t drink too much – if you fall down the stairs you have to surrender your keys and take a cab home (not the wine the car).

Started out with a nice Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava to freshen and wake up the palate … it was a little too cold to get the full effect of the fruit, though it was definitely crisp and fizzy.  It did the job it set out to do – my palate was ready for whatever came next.

The Group of 7 …
My first real wow moment came at Table 3 (South Africa and California) with the Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc ($10.75), slight melon, citrus aromas that proved to follow in the mouth with refreshing fruit and crispness … melon dominated the palate pleasantly and there was a good long finish – great value for a summer sipper. (****)
The other Robertson wine was a Shiraz ($11.75), it was full of red raspberries and cherries on the nose, with a slightly earthy/gamy palate wrapped in red fruit. (***½)

Table 4 (Chile, Port, Bordeaux and Sangria) had on it a nice Viu Manent Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($15.75) with nice cherry and black raspberry fruit from start to finish. (***½)

I tried a few on Table 5 (France 2) and found myself really enjoying the purple screw capped Beaujolais from Pisse-Dru ($12.25), a full on cherry nose with a touch of eathiness on the palate, but more black cherry than anything – fruit forward and yummy, this one is a good summer chiller (both you and the wine) at a price that won’t break the bank. (****)

Table 7 (Spain and Portugal) was an interesting blend of 4 wines … I tried three of them.  Skipping the neon pink rosé from Chivite Gran Feude, I opted instead for the 2004 Reserva Navarra ($15.75) from the same producer.  Black fruit and earthy with cassis fruit and a touch of wood; a smooth mid-palate with a tannic finish. (****)  There was also the Colinas de Sao Lourenco Tinto Bairrada 2006 ($13.75) – black fruit, subtle spice and a hit of vanilla, tasty and all at a good price. (****)

The star of the afternoon was to be found on Table 8 (France and Germany) in the form of Pol Roger NV Brut Champagne ($58.35) – this was a horse of a totally different colour from what I was expecting from this wine (and I have tried it in the past); I am told that it could be due to the new winemaker. The nose seemed typical enough, bready-biscotti like nuances, but the palate offered up a wealth of interesting complexities: creamy vanilla, nutty, butterscotch nuances, slightly smoky and toasty notes – really very delicious.  On my way home with the taste still lingering in my mouth my mind fixated on the caramel hazelnut like flavour left behind … this is a very good bubbly and a marked improvement from previous years. (****½)

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