Sunday, December 3, 2017

Now THAT'S how to have a birthday party.

I'll just let pictures tell the story.

Showing off a couple beauties from the cellar!
And, no, we weren't serving these wines tonight.

Several different themed tasting tonight. First up, a vertical tasting of Quails' Gate Chardonnay. We served their Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay, 2009-20015, and their Rosemary's Block Chardonnay, 2013-2015.

I've reviewed most of these wines previously so I won't go into full details on these ones, but the general consensus among the guests was that the 2009 was declining, the 2010-2012 were drinking beautifully, and the 2013-2015 were good but needed a bit more time. I would agree with all of that.

Next up, we featured some "BC vs. the World" rare grape varietals (rare to BC, anyway). Let's see what everyone thought of some BC Barbera, Gruner Veltliner and Chenin Blanc, against their more traditional cousins.

Sandhill 2014 Small Lots Barbera ($35.00 from winery direct)

Previously reviewed here, during  a recent Okanagan trip.

Fontanafredda 2015 Briccotondo Barbera ($18.49 from BC Liquor Stores)

Also previously reviewed, here, on Italy night.

I gave them both the same score, and I'd stand by that. My guests, however, preferred the Italian variation, by a fairly wide margin.

BC: 0, The World 1

Quails' Gate 2014 Chenin Blanc ($17.99 from winery direct)
92% Chenin Blanc, 8% Sauvignon Blanc

Even after 5 years of aging, fruit dominates the nose and the palate. Citrus right up front, with some papaya and mango joining the party on the mid-palate. Racy acidity, this wine should always be front of mind if trying to pair with seafood, particularly oysters.

Loic Mahé 2012 Les Fougeries Saviennes ($27.99 USD from
Aromas of lanolin, tropical fruit, dried herbs, and a touch of honey. Medium-full bodied and slightly off-dry, with notes of herbs, citrus, and honey. This is a well regarded wine (94 points from Wine Enthusiast) but it didn't knock us over.

There was no question on this one, BC wins this challenge by a wide margin.

BC: 1, The World 1

Last but certainly not least, Gruner Veltliner.

The BC entry (Culmina 2015 Unicus ($27.00 from winery) is one which I had raved about in the past, and the one from Austria we had tasted before (a different vintage) and thought it was pretty good but not even in the same league. You can see the reviews of both here.

The vintage that we tasted on this night was better, for sure.

Domäne Wachau - 2016 Federspiel Gruner Veltliner ($19.99)

Exotic fruit aromas, a hint of white pepper, golden delicious apple and herbaceousness. Crisp acidity frames flavors of tropical fruit and a touch of white pepper on the finish. Very typical Austrian Gruner. Medium bodied and tasty. 

My guests agreed with my assessment that the BC example was the winner here, although it was much closer than it should have been, IMO.

BC 2, The World 1

So that should pretty much end the debate of whether or not BC can make quality wines out of grapes that aren't widely grown here. No question.

Now, to the main event of the evening, a blind tasting of 5 Australian Shiraz, all from 2012, with very, VERY different price points. I was the only person who knew which wine was which. After everyone had tasted them all, they ranked them from favorite to least favorite and I tallied the results. I assigned 5 points for every first place vote, down to 1 point for every last place vote. 

The wine that finished in first place was a real beauty.

Two Hands 2012 Ares Shiraz ($169.99 USD from

Very dark purple in colour, the 2012 Ares is winemaking at it's finest. Intoxicating aromas of blackberry, black currant, black plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint and cedar. Black fruits dominate the palate, which is full bodied, juicy and chewy. The finish goes on and on for at least a minute. The tannins are settling but this will probably improve with even more cellar time. It doesn't need to improve.

Voted into second place, which would have been third on my list, is one you'll all recognize and it's available just about anywhere wine is sold.

Wolf Blass 2012 Grey Label Shiraz ($34.99)
Aromas of blue and black fruits, just a hint of black pepper, toasty oak and dark chocolate. Black fruits dominate the palate, joined on the mid-palate by licorice, chocolate and vanilla. Really nice at this price. 

Voted into third place was another real beauty, and it was second on my list. This is one that's available in BC Liquor stores. 

John Duval 2012 Entity Shiraz ($62.99)

Blackberry, plum, crushed leaves, clove, vanilla, raspberry and cedar on the nose. A hint of well-integrated oak on the palate, joined by blackberry and black plum, with some herbaceous notes, smoke and vanilla. So nice. 

In fourth place was the wine which actually had the second highest price point, but I (and most guests) were somewhat disappointed in it. It's a very highly rated wine (95-97 points from Robert Parker!) but we didn't think that much of it for the price. Not that it was bad, just overpriced. 

Elderton 2012 Command Shiraz ($99.99 USD from
Dark and brooding, dominated by dark fruit on the nose and palate, with a touch of pepper lurking in the shadows. It's a good wine, and maybe it just needs time, but it finishes too quickly to compete with the wines rated above it.

Last and certainly least, IMO, was this monstrosity. This actually received a first place vote and a couple of seconds, but mine went down the sink. It wasn't completely awful, but life is too short to drink this stuff when there is so much better stuff sitting in a decanter 3 feet away.....

Wyndham Estate - 2012 George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz ($17.49)

 Aromas of ripe plum, mint and blackberry. Full-bodied and almost jammy, with black plum and blackberry flavors. Oak is everywhere. Unimpressive.

That's it for today's report! Still lots of stuff to report on, gotta pick up on the last Okanagan report AND a few weeks ago we met for our latest theme night, some great wine and food from Chile! Stay tuned.

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