Sunday, August 29, 2010

Report from ... Alberta Oilmen/Schott Zwiesel Tasting - August 27, 2010

This past weekend I found myself in my birth province of Alberta - I was born in Edmonton (not a popular place in what seemed like a mostly Calgary-based crowd) ... I was here to speak to the Oilmen's convention about the benefits of proper glassware and it's effects on the wines we drink.  Armed with 5 stems of the break-resistant Schott Zwiesel crystal stemware and wines from a new Argentinean wine venture, Zorzal, I had an an hour and a half to convince these folks that the right glass makes all the difference.

The first thing I like to find out, before doing these types of presentations, is who in the room is skeptical that glassware makes any difference at all to the wines we drink - afterall, to many, a glass is a glass is a glass.  I am happy to report that over half of those in attendance believed in proper glassware from the get go, while a full third of the room were skeptical of the benefits a properly designed stem could make to their wine drinking experience ... I am even happier to report that by the end of my hour and three-quarters (the last 15 minutes was a question and answer period), not one person was skeptical anymore.  Don't believe me?  I'll be doing more of these tastings/demonstrations in the future, make sure you keep your eyes and ears open for the when and where - and I bet I can turn your skepticism around ... trust me, when I first did this kind of tasting, over 20 years ago, I was a bigger skeptic than you.

Best of the Wines tried ...

Of course being in Alberta I saw and heard about the benefits of a free market system of alcohol sales.  I tasted wines I hadn't tired before and probably would not try because of the tight reign the LCBO has over the Ontario marketplace.  Zorzal is a new winery located in Mendoza, Argentina that has financial backing from a few of the Alberta Oilmen in attendance at this event - hence why their wines were being tasted this afternoon.  Of the six wines I tried two stood our as being either interesting of downright tasty.
Interesting: Zorzal 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve (13.5% alcohol) - this wine came as quite a surprise - this is not your average everyday Pinot Noir, nor is it typical or usual.  When poured into a proper Burgundy glass it exuded the usual cranberry, raspberry and sour cherry notes - but most noticeable on both nose and palate was black pepper ... this wine drank more like a Shiraz that it did a Pinot Noir.  Typical?  No.  Pinot Noir? It may say it on the label but you'd have trouble identifying it as such in a blind tasting.  Drinkable?  You bet. (****)

Downright Tasty:  Zorzal 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% alcohol) - this was my favourite wine in the Zorzal line-up, which included a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec Rosee amd Malbec Reserve ... this was a pure Cab from start to finish with all the things you love about hot climate, South American Cabernet.  The nose was blackberry, pepper and a touch of alcohol bled its way through on the sniffer.  But on the palate that alcohol disappeared, leaving behind vanilla, pepper, black currant and a touch of toffee with big, bold flavours and lush mouthfeel ... good acidity and a long flavourful finish which ended this wine off in the mouth nicely.  (****1/2)

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