Monday, October 22, 2007

RSVP Tasting: "Absolutely Terrifying"

Wine Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2005
From Okanagan, BC
Price $17.95 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 13.0%
It's the first wine of the evening and everybody is receptive: "Beautiful nose---like a Pinot Gris" says the Boss, and heads nod around the table: Yes indeed; it has a nice, fruity nose of honey and apples, tart acid on the palate, and an aftertaste of apple peels. "I could drink this," the Boss gravely concludes. "And I will." Everybody bows their heads.

Wine La Franz Sauvignon Blanc “Small Lots” 2006
From Okanagan, BC
Price $22 (MSL)
Big, goofy nose---it certainly doesn't smell like a Sauvignon Blanc. Palate is mushy and indecisive: "Too much sugar---no finish" is the way one taster puts it, and the philosopher of the group goes him one better, complaining of an icky aftertaste. This sets on edge the teeth of the taster from the wrong hemisphere: he declares it superior to the Blue Mountain above. He is of course deluded, but the rest get the point: it's the new-world style with plenty of oomph, and for a lot of consumers, that's plenty.

Wine Santa Carolina Chardonnay 2006
From Chile
Price $8.35 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
For what turns out to be merely the first time this evening, Fearless Leader is thunderstruck by his first sniff: "Terrifying!" Cooler heads and palates detect something both green (as in stemmy and herbacious) and oaky (as in "they used the big tea bag---it ain't barrels.") Nobody says "I like it", but there's some grudging backpedalling on the lead taster's initial judgment: "This isn't so bad," says the boss. "It's OK for the price," says his side-kick, praising with faint damnation.

Wine Summerhill Galaxy White
From Okanagan, BC
Price $12.95 (BC Liquor Stores)
Alcohol Content 11.5%
The lead taster is feeling magnanimous in his criticism: "there is a place for a wine like this... just not at my table." Point is well taken, though---with its big, goofy fruit this is a patio sipper, not a table wine. (Although the actual restaurant foot-soldiers at the table both like it.) "This would be good for sitting on a log at the beach," is the way the philosophical taster puts it, and everybody nods sagely.

Wine Summerhill Ehrenfelser 2006
From Okanagan, BC
Price $21.32 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.2%
Some ohhs and ahhs from the peanut gallery ("Spicy!" "Big fruit!") betray a crowd-pleaser that stuns the snobs at the table into disrespectful silence. There is a bit of the wine-for-dummies feel to it: there's not much acid and it's over-ripe and a bit cloying; but nevertheless, Steven Cipes sells this by the case to the busloads of tourists who visit his winery. It's sweet enough to seem tailor-made for a spicy Asian meal, which is probably just what those busloads of tourists have in mind.

Wine Runaway Bay Chardonnay 2006
From Australia
Price $12.03 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
Either tasters are getting shell-shocked, or we're going through a particularly bad patch: "Oh my God" moans Fearless Leader. "Absolutely terrifying!" For running that catchphrase into the ground, he will be mocked for the rest of the evening---because frankly, the Runaway Bay's not that bad; it's chief sin is tasting more like a Semillon than a Chard, and being on the whole no better than the Santa Carolina, which is three bucks cheaper. But the damage is done, and the insults cascade down from all the yes-men in the bleachers---the most gentle of them calling the wine "a suicide note." Oh, the humanity.

Wine Alamos Chardonnay 2006
From Argentina
Price $18.40 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
Starts rough, but gets better as it goes, finally snapping into new-world-big focus after a few minutes. The blond taster at the table likes it ("I wouldn't pay $18 for it, though"), but the voice that counts is the boss's: "I like this wine."

Wine Catena Chardonnay 2005
From Argentina
Price $25.00 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
This was made by the same producer as the Alamos above, and everybody notices at least a change in the nose; "not as obvious---more European" in the words of one taster. The latitudinally-challenged comrade (who shares a hemisphere with the producer) claims that he can taste a big difference between the two bottles, but he is pooh-poohed by the philosophical type: "It's got more finesse, but it's still a big, new-world chard.". The remaining conversation comes down to dollars, which the lead taster and his hangers-on figure would be better spent on the Jadot they tried the week before. It's tough being from the wrong side of the equator.

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