Monday, December 10, 2007

RSVP Tasting: Six Wines in Search of a Character

Wine Marley Farms Novine White
From Saanich, BC
Price $14.95
Alcohol Content 10.4%
An Ortega – Pinot Grigio blend from a producer best known for non-grape fruit wines. A big Ortega nose gets everybody’s attention; what follows on the palate gets pleased murmurs from all around the table and a smile from Fearless Leader: “Crisp, clean, fresh, and there’s even some weight to it. This is very pleasant.” “Lychees” observes a guest taster, and the silence that greets him is taken to imply consent.

Wine Golden Beaver Gewurztraminer 2006
From Okanagan, BC
Price $19.00 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
A case where you first have to digest the label (see above) before you get to the taste of the wine: According to the agent who represents their wines, these are nice people trying to do serious wines in modest amounts (and who also seem to be trying just about everything on their 8 acres) but they’ve chosen an image so at odds with their purpose that it’s tough to get past it to what’s in your glass: in this case, a big nose, good Gewurz sweetness on the palate, followed by a twiggy/stemmy/seedy aftertaste that’s made more emphatic by hot alcohol. “Young vines,” our host reminds us. "Compassion is a virtue" replies the Philosophical Taster, quoting early David Byrne, "but I just don't have the time."

Wine Lotusland Enigma
From Abbotsford BC
Price $21.99 (MSL)
Memory does not preserve the group’s thoughts on the Lotusland Pinot Noir that preceded this, except that for everyone, this Pinot Meunier-Gamay combination represented a step in the right direction---up. There is a big, sharp, fruity nose which renders the winemakers purpose transparent----this is a way-station between Beaujolais-Gamay and Pinot Noir: more substantial than the former; more fun than the latter; with the stakes lower in each direction. Cunning stuff, which everybody finds simple and pleasant.

Wine Lotusland Zweigelt 2003
From Abbotsford, BC
Price $32.90 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 12.6%
Nothing is by the book with this Austrian hybrid---a grape in search of a better name---and nobody has any idea what it’s really supposed to taste like; happily, everybody thinks it a larger version of the Enigma, above. “Bigger, rounder, fleshier---I like this!” are the Boss’s words. “How much does it cost…?” A strangled cry when he finds out. Very pleasant, but in this price range you’re going to get much more than just pleasant elsewhere.

Wine Tinhorn Creek Cabernet-Merlot 2005
From Okanagan, BC
Price $16.99 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 14.1%
Tinhorn is a big brand and thus easy to take swipes at. The comments come thick and fast: “Very weedy.” “Like green peppers.” “I taste mint.” From the Boss: “Refreshing. Very nice… on the rocks.” Light on the palate and not at all unpleasant, there are a lot of indistinct proto-flavors, and a feeling you can’t shake (especially when you’ve just gone through a dozen other wines) that there’s something not quite right; that things are happening on the palate in the wrong order. It feels tannic, but the tannin’s not at the right place in the profile. Maybe it needs some age? The Boss shakes his head: “There’s a lot of winemaker intervention in this; these guys are notorious for stripping everything out and then building their wines up again from scratch. So this is as good as it’s going to taste; there’s no benefit to aging it; this is always going to be a reliable, picnic-chicken red and no more.” At that point, everybody notices the price, counts their blessings, and shuts up.

No comments: