Monday, June 11, 2007

RSVP Tasting: Rhone Varietals Abroad

Wine Chateau de Serame 2004
From Corbieres, France
Price $18.21 (BC Liquor Stores)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
New-world style well-managed by an old-world producer: fruit is big both on the nose and the palate, but somehow avoids the kind of steroid-induced muscle that overwhelms you. Designed for the multitudes; the multitudes around this particular table all enjoyed it. One caveat: a bit pricey; but then, this is BC.

Wine Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz 2004
From Australia
Price 24.99 (BC Liquor Stores)
Alcohol Content 14.5%
Big, big, big. Did I say big? This is a bulldozer of a wine—forget your meal unless it’s mutton with 1000 cloves of garlic. Or chocolate. Well-made, and the strength isn’t ham-handed either, but you get a dazed rather than lingering finish—you’ve been laid out by what came before. Pretend it’s a dry desert wine and drink it from tiny glasses.

Wine Torres Catalunya Sangre de Toro 2004
From Spain
Price $12.99 (BC Liquor Stores)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
Slight nose; sweet attack not unlike a more modest version of the Corbieres above, although the tannins are a little harsh; a bit older-world. Our host even found notes of “green tobacco-leaf”; consensus was that it was not bad for the price, although we were reminded by our Godfather (and merchant) that he sold four equivalent labels for less. “Torres hasn’t kept up.”

Wine Chateau de Valcombe Costieres de Nimes 2003
From France
Price $16.40 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
Grenache/Syrah blend. A slightly fishy, gamy nose hints at a seriousness of purpose not really followed up on the palate. Biting tannins led to a quick finish in a fashion described by one taster as ‘linear’. No huge enthusiasm from the group, although at least one person wanted to try it with food employing thyme and rosemary.

Wine La Veille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux 2005
From France
Price $13.99 (BC Liquor Stores)
Alcohol Content 13.5
Widely available and widely known (116,000 cases of this were made in 2005) this wine nevertheless repays your attention—especially in the context of the BC reds with which it’s competing. Briefly, their ‘simple and pleasant’ is better than our ‘simple and pleasant’—this is a meant to be a younger cousin to a Chateauneuf-de-Pape, and the Cotes de Ventoux growers and winemakers have enough skill and tradition to draw on that they nail it beautifully. At Ontario prices ($11.65) this is a world-beater.

Wine D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre 2005
From Australia
Price $16.06 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 14.0%
Nose hints at the big fruit to follow; palate big, but a bit dumb and one-dimensional. Sweet fruit skates along the edge of blandness. Serviceable.

Wine Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2004
From South Africa
Price $16.06
Alcohol Content 14.0%
Dry mineral nose; lots of fruit on the palate, but not over the top; nicely balanced with some tartness and a more savory fruit style. Comments (everybody had something to say) ranged from “funky” to “rustic—not a techie wine” to “bridges the old and new worlds”. Consensus favorite of the tasting; people hung around to finish the bottle.

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