Monday, September 3, 2007

RSVP Tasting: A relief expedition from the LCBO finally arrives in town

Wine Chateau de Corneilla “Cuvee Prestige” Cotes de Roussillon 2004
From Pyrenees, France
Price $15.95 (LCBO, Ontario)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
Earthy nose with notes of game; perhaps a tiny hint of the ocean (or at least Lake Superior) had the metaphor fans abuzz: leaves, forest floor, that kind of stuff; later evolving to truffles, plums, dates, mature tree-fruit and mature trees themselves. A mix of 30% each of Mourvedre, Syrah, and old-vines Carignan with a pinch of Grenache tastes ancient and earthy---an old, off-color joke you still love. Very dry---not dried-out, but naturally austere and purely expressed---this was consumed with lamb, and made it even more fabulous: Young and tender, old and gamy all at once. (The flavor that dare not speak its name.)

Wine Chateau Constantin-Chevalier Cotes de Luberon 2003
From Provence, France
Price $21.95 (LCBO, Ontario)
Alcohol Content 14.0%
When your back label is a lot bigger than your front, we've got trouble. Mealy-mouthed rear-label prose by Peter Mayle (author of A Year in Provence) very gingerly points out the possible health benefits of red wine and invites you to consume this bottle with your doctor “in good conscience”. Not with your friends, mind you: This has no spectacular nose; big generic fruit; is big and anonymous and doesn't evolve through the bottle---OK with food, but no more than that. Same grapes as the Corneilla above, but a different universe entirely! This wine is a slap-you-on-the-back kind of guy from sales that you meet once at a party and then never see again. One philosophical type wondered aloud how the winemaker arrived at the idea of this wine; how something so generic could be the end point of a rational or artistic plan; that this is what a real wine-maker makes only by mistake. (It has to be said that he found virtually no solidarity in this conclusion, showing once more that while most excellent wines have the same virtues, every ordinary wine is crummy for reasons all its own.)

Wine Chateau du Perier 2004
From Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Price $17.95 (LCBO, Ontario)
Alcohol Content 12.0%
Good, rich, identifiably Medoc nose. Well-balanced on the palate with tannins already smooth and sweet. This is a well-managed, well thought-out wine, where the wine-maker went with what the vineyard gave him---which in this case cashes out to relatively light alcohol, low acid, and a wine whose fruit is at its peak 3 years after being put into the bottle. A good name to remember, especially since under the new laws it won't be able to call itself a Cru Bourgeois much longer. Pricey only inasmuch as it's not a fabulous bargain; but you get your money's worth.

Wine La Fleur Leroy 2004
From Bordeaux AC, France
Price $14.80 (Sale price, LCBO, Ontario)
Alcohol Content 13.0%
No, not that Leroy. Immediately after the bottle is opened, it has a meaty nose with traces of game. On the palate, more game, rich fruit, mild tannins, identifiable Bordeaux flavor and a lingering finish. Promising.

15 minutes later, that's all history: fruit has disappeared and the wine has dried out completely, leaving a stemmy, unpleasantly herbaceous finish that had tasters dumping their glasses on the lawn. The nose is still acceptable, (food helped somewhat, though not much) but it's a slippery slope from then on---the great disappearing wine. Later, the purchaser admitted that he had bought it on sale---no wonder.

Wine D'Arenberg The Galvo Garage 2002
From Australia
Price $26.95 (LCBO, Ontario, current release)
Alcohol Content 14.5%
A big nose punches you in yours. But a strange, acid-forward palate reminiscent of grape-skins without tannins (if such a thing is possible) leads some in the peanut gallery to think the wine's been diddled with somewhere in its production. No huge enthusiasm, (a Parker score of 90 notwithstanding) and since there are no Voodoo merchants among the tasters, the question of whether it's a botched bottle or merely one that's still too green goes unanswered. Nobody asks for seconds.

Wine Doudet Naudin Bourgogne Vicomte 2005
From Burgundy, France
Price $19.95 (LCBO, Ontario)
Alcohol Content 13.0%
Nose a mix of nice Burgundy and old socks ('shoe leather' to the polite.) Balanced on the palate with some scratchy acid and tannin---this needs some time in the bottle---but finishes nicely. A tough wine to really appreciate with a dozen others at a tasting, since at this stage of its life it needs to be open a couple of hours to start making a persuasive case for itself. It's also going to be a tough sell for the fans raised on New World Pinots: Too light! Too thin! Too subtle! But for people who appreciate structure and balance and subtlety above all (and who have a basement) this will make an nice, discreet accompaniment to some sweetbreads prepared in time for Bastille Day, 2009.

No comments: