We’re up on the second floor overlooking the bar below, it’s 3 in the afternoon, so there’s golf, soccer and some replays from last night’s sporting events on the televisions – plenty of talking heads are mouthing words on silent screens. It is an amazing sight to see the entire wall move in this way and I suspect during a real sporting event this place just becomes electric … a sport-watchers dream come true. So what is Stem doing here holding their annual portolio tasting? Robert Tome, one of the partners behind the Stem Group, has his reasons, all of them good … and that’s all I’ll say.
The Wines, in general and a Word about Beer …
There are approximately 135 wines on hand this afternoon/evening, along with 7 grappas and 4 beers. I don’t drink grappa, I have enough hair on my chest and I’m not looking to put any on my back; but I can tell you the beer is delicious. It’s from a company called Birra Bruton in Italy. You don’t usually think of Italians for beer but these truly are special, especially the Belgian style “Birra Stoner” (sweet and fruity with a touch of spice) and “Birra Lilith” an English Pale Ale Style beer that’s hinted with caramel and coffee flavours.
As for the wine, there were many good ones in the room; I’ll point your attention to those that ranked 4-stars (very good) and above, including the bubbly that topped my list for wine of the night.
Four Star Selections (with a few notes) – broken down by country …
Italy (four stars) …
Arnoldo Caprai 2007 Montefalco Rosso ($22.99) – red spiced cherries
La Fattoria di Magliano (2 wines):
2008 Capato, Sangiovese ($15.95); 2008 ‘Sinarra’ Sangiovese ($23.99)
Feudi Di San Gregorio 2009 Fiano di Avellino ($29.99)
Villa A Sesta 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva ($34.99) – after 3 years in bottle you get smooth black fruit with a little spice backing it up.
Tenuta Monteti 2006 Caburnio ($19.99) – a blend of Cab Sauv / Merlot and Alicante Bouchet
Azienda Agricola Forcher (2 wines):
2009 Pinot Grigio ($15.99) - copper coloured with great aromatics; 2009 Riesling ($15.99) this dry white is an interesting and unique variety for Italy
Zyme 2005 Kairos ($95.99) – a fifteen grape blend of 4 whites and 11 reds, a real character
Vinicole Tombaco (2 wines):
NV Prosecco ($14.99) – fresh and fruity bubbly, well priced; 2009 Ca’Del Doge Primitivo ($11.99) – very American Zinfandel-like in style
Delibori Vigneti e Cantine 2003 Amarone della Valpolicella ($69.99)
Boroli (2 wines):
2001 Barolo ($89.99) – powerful presence in the mouth; 2008 Barbera D’Alba ($17.99) – fruity and lightly spiced
Ca’del Baio 2009 Moscato d’Asti ($17.99) - what’s not to love
France (four stars) …
Chateau de la Haute Libarde 2007 Cotes de Bourg ($17.99) value priced Bordeaux with good fruit
Spain (four stars) …
Bodegas Darien 2005 Crianza ($21.99)
USA (four stars) …
Hart & McGarry 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99) – chocolate and black fruit, nice complexity
Argentina (four stars) …
Andeluna Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.99) – sweet fruit, nice spice, good value
Four-and-a-half Star Selections (with a few notes) – broken down by country …
Italy (4½ stars) …
Zyme 2003 Harlequin ($400) – a fifteen varietal blend (4 white – 11 red), 15% alcohol, minimum 30 months in 200% new oak (15 in new oak, then removed put again into another 15 months in new oak), 300 bottles produced and only in the “best” years (’99 / 2000 / ’01 / ’03 / ’06 / ’07 / ’08 / ’09). When price doesn’t matter this wine is the one you want, powerful yet elegant.
Villa A Sesta 2007 Chianti Classico ‘Sorleona’ ($39.99) – smooth, rich and succulent … this 100% single vineyard Sangiovese is the cat’s you-know-what. 40,000 bottles produced.
Valdicava 2003 Brunello di Montalcino, Riserva ‘Madonna del Piano’ ($199.00) – nice now, but time will do wonders for it; buy it and lie it.
La Fattoria di Magliano 2008 ‘Heba’ Morellino di Scansano ($22.99) – 15% Syrah / 85% Sangiovese, all flavour … mixes fruit and wood in a supple blend.
Feudi di San Gregorio 2005 Serpico Aglianico ($89.99) – average age of the vines here are 150 years, and are all pre-phylloxera; in pictures the vines look more like trees (as they do in person I am told); the wine is powerful and elegant, sweet and supple, rich and inviting, and most of all intense; only 30,000 bottles are produced from 6 hectares annually.
Spain (4½ stars) …
Bodegas Darien 2004 Seleccion ($39.99) – smooth and silky; simply put this is a lovely wine.
USA (4½ stars) …
Hart & McGarry 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($26.99) – good complexity and integration with the wood is seamless, vanilla fruit dominate elegantly.
Merry Edwards 2009 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($55.99) – pricey but still one of the most distinctive Sauvignon Blanc’s in recent memory – how does she get that pure grapefruit smell and taste into this wine? This borders on the intrigue behind the Caramilk secret.
Argentina (4½ stars) …
Andeluna Cellars 2005 Grand Reserve ‘Pasionado’ ($49.99) – passion is right, the wine has it in the bottle and it translates to a big, complex spice and black fruit driven palate – wow!
Best Wine of the Night - 5-Star Selection …
I went back to this wine time and time again, and each time it just got better and more inviting. I tried it from at least 3 different bottles, 5 tastes in all at different times of the evening, just to be sure – including a full farewell slug before leaving:
Henri Abele NV Brut Champagne ($54.99) – established in 1757 this is one of Champagne’s oldest producers. This is the first foray for this wine into the Ontario market and it is a beauty. Nutty and nice with aged flavour yet elegant and ultimately sippable.