Friday, December 2, 2016

Stag's Hollow special wines....and, do you think the wine glass doesn't matter? You are so wrong.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Life has say the least for the last couple of weeks. Anyway, this past Sunday my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend a special event hosted by the glass company, Riedel. The tasting featured three special wines from Stag's Hollow, presented by the owner and proprietor, Larry Gerelus, who I think is one of the few in the BC wine industry who I don't believe I had ever met before. Good guy, and passionate about his wines.

The wines presented are reviewed below, but first let's start by discussing the glasses. We were given three from their Veritas series, which we were told was the third from the top (most expensive) in their impressive lineup of glasses:

New World Pinot Noir
New World Shiraz
Merlot/Cabernet (Bordeaux varietals)

First up we started with a 2011 Renaissance Pinot Noir. We were asked to pour it into all three glasses, and one at at time, smell and taste the wine. Remember this is the SAME wine, poured into high-quality glasses.

Tracey and I were already fans of serving wine in the correct glass. We have an extensive collection of varietal-specific glasses; but even we had NO idea what a difference it would make.

In the proper glass, the Pinot was outstanding. In the Shiraz glass...meh. In the Bordeaux glass, it was bordering on undrinkable.

I am not kidding, folks. If you are drinking your wine out of the wrong glass, it likely doesn't taste anything like it is supposed to.

Now, not EVERY single varietal has it's own glass. Riedel provided us with a beautiful, large booklet explaining exactly what varietal goes with what (and they also have a wonderful app that does the same thing). The second wine we were served wasn't a Shiraz, but in fact a 2013 Tempranillo, which shares enough of the profile of Shiraz that this is the appropriate glass. We repeated the exercise in all three glasses, and found exactly the same thing. If we were tasting that wine out of the wrong glass, we would have never purchased one. We purchased three.

Third was their Renaissance Merlot, 2013. Exactly the same thing; it popped right out of the Bordeaux glass, was not very good out of the Shiraz/Tempranillo glass, and was downright awful out of the Pinot Noir glass.

So, skeptics amongst you are saying right now "BS. It can't possibly make that much difference. How is that possible?"

Well, I am far from an expert, but it was explained to us that not only does the shape of the glass greatly alter the aromas of the wine, depending on the profile of the grape (and we all know how important smell is), the shape of the opening presents the wine onto different places on your tongue. As everyone probably knows, we have four different senses of taste, and they are all in different places on your tongue; the proper glass knows where to put wines that are higher in acidity, so that you will taste the wine at it's very best.

It matters. Oh does it matter.

Oh, and as a funny exercise, we also drank some of the wine out of a plastic cup, to predictable results. Don't ever take a bottle of good wine on a picnic and drink it out of a plastic cup, especially one with a rim. You are wasting your money.

Next time you are going to buy a $40 bottle of wine, buy yourself a $40 (or more) varietal-specific glass to go with it. You will thank me.

On to the wine (oh, and the ratings are based on the wine consumed in the PROPER glass of course!!):

Stag's Hollow 2011 Renaissance Pinot Noir ($35.99)

Black cherry, plum, spice and earth on the nose and the palate. A touch of forest floor comes through on the finish which is long and lovely. Drinking beautifully now. 91.

Stag's Hollow 2013 Tempranillo ($25.99)

I'm a much bigger fan of this varietal than my wife, but her first reaction to this wine was "wow". I generally drink Tempranillo after it's aged for a decade or more, but this is the best 'young' one I have ever tasted, and it's not close. Beautiful aromas of red fruit, coffee, leather, earth and tobacco. Blackberry, cherry, cedar and a touch of tar on the palate. Juicy and delicious. 93.

Stag's Hollow 2013 Renaissance Merlot ($34.99)

Deep rich purple in colour. Blackberry, blueberry, cocoa and vanilla on the nose. Rich flavors of mocha, leather, vanilla, dark chocolate and red cherries. Drinking well now but would benefit from decanting if you are impatient. We picked up a couple of these and are going to lay them down in the short to mid term to let them fully express themselves. 92.

And a bonus, before we started the tasting we started off by tasting this one:

Stag's Hollow 2015 Muscat Frizzante ($21.99)

Notes of lemon, lime and peach on the nose and the palate. Light and very dry with some stone fruit and citrus on the palate.
Full disclosure: Frizzante is just not my thing. The best thing I can say about this wine, I suppose, is I've had a lot of worse Frizzantes. It's not bad. 87.

What a fantastic event, something I would DEFINITELY recommend you do if you have the chance. It was $99 per person, but we left with our glasses ($149 value), so we did pretty well. And, great to get a chance to taste some terrific wine from a producer that I was only somewhat familiar with.

Next up: I promise to get back to the last Okanagan trip report soon!

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