Sunday, February 13, 2011

Report from ... Wine Writers' Circle Annual Dinner 2011 - January 24, 2011

The mystery continues ... I have long wondered why wine writers bring the bottles they do to a dinner filled with other wine writers.  Tonight was our annual dinner, this year held at Tutti Matti (an Italian restaurant at 364 Adelaide Street West).  Although food was delicious and my dinner included salad (baby spinach with bufala mozerella, pine nuts, dried balsamic figs, sliced prosciutto, grilled seasonal fruit and saba vinaigrette); main (slow roasted beef short ribs, italian beer, oranges, rosemary and garlic with soft polenta and roasted root vegetables) and dessert (tiramisu - maybe the best I have ever had), it is the wine that always intrigues me.  A fellow by the name of Martin and I got into a discussion about that very thing and neither of us could explain to the others satisfaction why bottles of Le Vieux Pin (B.C.) were sitting beside Chateau Pipeau flanked by a Brunello di Montalcino which sat between a '99 Cilento and Hillebrand with some Jankris and Errazurriz Ovalle standing behind them.  Why a bottle of Isole e Olena found its way beside a Perrin & Fils, or how a rare bottle of Kruger Rumpf Pittersberg could be at the same table as a run of the mill Aussie Shiraz like The Lackey Shiraz.  The head stratching will continue, but here are some notes about the wines that found their way into my glass ...

The Best Wines of the Night ...

Le Vieux Pin 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (British Columbia, Canada) ... a lovely tropical-citrus nose was followed on the tongue with plenty of citrus and acidity but little else.  I was not overwhelmed nor was I underwhelmed, all-in-all I would say I was merely whelmed by it.

Kruger Rumpf 2006 Pittersberg GG Riesling Trocken (Nahe, Germney) ... the GG here stands (in German) for "First Growth", real lemony schist on the nose, while the palate showed a great mineral/stony quality with good acid balance and a dryness rarely seen of in German Riesling.

The real surprise of the night was a Cilento 2999 Merlot Reserve (Ontario, Canada) ... a wine made by Ann Sperling in her early days of Ontario winemaking.  Cigar and chocolate with dried cherry and blackberry, still with enough umph to last 3-4 years.

Vinedos Errazuriz Ovalle 2005 Panul Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) ... great raspberry fruit on the nose; lovely fruit on the palate, alive and delicious, paired beautifully with the short ribs.

Isole e Olena 2004 Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy) ... cheery and cherry, smoothing out with a good mix of acidity to fruit to tannin ratio.  Tasty.

Perrin & Fils 2007 Les Sinards Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Rhone, France) ... a beautiful example of a Rhone blend, lots of fruit, plenty of heft and depth.

Chateau Pipeau 2003 (Bordeaux, France) ... nice balance and depth of flavour, very Bordelais, aging nicely with dried fruit, good acidity and still well structured tannins.

The Lackey 2007 Shiraz (Australia) nothing ventured nothing gained, this is a fruit forward, full bodied Aussie Shiraz with big fruit and white pepper - typical but tasty.

With ups come downs and these wines disappointed, although I started with high expectations for them ...

JanKris 2004 Crossfire (Paso Robles, California, USA) ... a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot blend that started off well, with a fruit forward nose and a touch of mocha/coffee and licorice on the palate; it started to open up a little with peppery notes, but just as quickly a faint whiff of corkiness came by and ruined the show. Sigh, such potential.

Hillebrand 1999 Glenlake Cabernet Sauvignon (Ontario, Canada) ... this was a JL Groux creation that proved to be a heavy-handed affair.  Smoky notes dominated and so did the massive tannins and barrel notes; there was no fruit to speak of and those barrel notes won't subside to reveal any, too bad.

Le Vieux Pin 2006 Apogee Merlot (British Columbia, Canada) ... a younger wine then the Hillebrand with much the same result.  Big alcohol (15.1%) and wood masks any kind of fruit this wine might have; time will tell if anything will emerge, but right now it looks doubtful.

Pietranera 2004 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany, Italy) ... very powerful still, lots of wood, tannin rich with not much fruit, sure it stood open a couple of hours before we sipped on it, but it still did nothing for me.

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