Friday, November 2, 2007

RSVP Tasting: A nice meaty red with your carcinogens?

Wine Le Paradou Cotes du Luberon 2005
From France
Price $16.23 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 14.0%
When France meets the new world half-way, the results are usually better than the other way around---here we've got a shooting guard adding a little muscle rather than a crash-dieting boxer trying to make his weight. It's pretty well balanced (if unsubtle) on both nose and palate: Pepper and backbone from the Syrah; fruit and body from the Grenache. The Philosophical taster wipes his fevered brow in relief: there's no goofy fruit---"no steroids" is his way of putting it.

Wine Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc 2004
From Okanagan, BC
Price $42.52 (Spinakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 14.4%
This spent 18 months in French oak, and 403 cases of it were made. A gaggle of noses in glasses detect a potent Cab Franc scent; somebody sips... and a cry of disbelief erupts: "This tastes like dill!" Well, maybe. Over the next couple of minutes, people discover hints of a lot of things, actually---all of them good and most of them a combination of tannin and oak. A meditative state envelops everyone, broken by the boss: "This is quite lovely." And it is: Universal acclaim; only the price is an issue.

Wine Chinon Remy Pannier 2005
From France
Price $17.34
Alcohol Content 13.5%
The Boss: "A picnic red!" The Philosopher: "Yum---tastes European." The Southern-Hemisphere taster: "Akk! it's thin, and it's weedy---and it's bitter on the finish, and it's too tannic... grumble, grumble, grumble." Much controversy---the young 'uns hate it; the Eurocentric palates like it. Conversation dies out when the Boss wonders aloud which wine "you could afford two of". Nobody quite understands the reference, and thus intimidated, everybody moves on.

Wine Sommerhill Solus Foch
From Okanagan, BC
Price $22.95 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 14.9%
No nose to speak of. "Try it with chocolate", offers the eager-young-space-cadet taster, with memories of a trick that worked once with this wine. But not this time---the alcohol's so overpowering that even the tannins are smothered; going by the Philosophical Taster's favorite steroid metaphor, this isn't even Arnold Schwarzenegger---it's Sylvester Stallone. Other, representative comments from the peanut gallery: "Dim"; "dodgy"; "forget it". Even our server, who has never met a wine he hasn't tried to sell us, doesn't like it. (So of course, the rest of the crowd harasses him.)

Wine Yalumba Shiraz-Vigonier 2005
From Australia
Price $19.48 (Spinnakers, BC)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
As you might expect from the source continent, this is big and fruity, but arouses mostly indifference from the crowd. Even the normally chauvinistic hemispherically-challenged taster feels it's less than the sum of its parts: "This tastes like two wines that haven't come together." The lead taster is less sympathetic: "Yum! Cherry-raspberry cordial!" The consensus around the table is that even a Cotes du Rhone does a better job with these types of grapes at a fairer price.

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