Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

Handicapping the 2015 BC Pinot Noir Celebration

August 19, 2015

Okay, back from holidays, and I can’t resist being a bit cheeky with my first blog!

It relates the the 2015 BC Pinot Noir Celebration scheduled for this weekend in Kaleden (in BC’s beautiful Similkameen Valley). For those not familiar with the event, it was started last year by a number of BC wineries to celebrate the so-called ‘heartbreak grape’. Billed purposely as a ‘celebration’ and not a ‘competition’, it never-the-less has entry requirements and features tastings that can’t help but lend themselves to comparisons! And with international wine celebrity Steven Spurrier the host this year (he of Bottle Shock fame), there may be more competition references than ever!

So given that – and my interest in being cheeky – I am going to handicap the event similar to the way film critics do with potential Academy Award winners!

My categories will be three:
* best overall Pinot Noir Winery
* best Reserve Pinot Noir (5 + years old)
* best regular Pinot Noir.

In doing this, I will also reference wineries/wines that aren’t there if that is relevant.

So here we go!

Best Pinot Noir Winery

My Nominees: Kettle Valley, Blue Mountain, Quail’s Gate, Meyer

a) Should win – Kettle Valley (not there)

BC Pinot Noir dweebs like me know that the Kettle Valley Hayman Vineyard is the only true Burgundian Pinot in BC, as well as one of the best. The more Cali-style Reserve is not far behind, and even the regular Pinot Noir is beautiful. This award would be an easy choice for me!

b) Would win – Quail’s Gate or Meyer Family

Quail’s Gate has been making reserve and regular Pinot Noirs since the beginning of the BC wine industry and while the former are a bit pricey, they are definitely good. Plus they are VQA. Meyer is a relative newcomer, but gets good press for its pricey wines. And according to the media, are the only BC Pinots that Spurrier has followed in England. Neither make better Pinot Noirs than Kettle Valley, but…Take your pick!

Best Reserve/High End Pinot Noir (5+ years old)

My Nominees: Kettle Valley Hayman, Kettle Valley Reserve, Blue Mountain Reserve, La Frenz Reserve, Averill Creek Reserve, Howling Bluff, Meyer (Mclean Creek or Reimer), Foxtrot, Quail’s Gate Family Reserve, Cedarcreek Platinum

a) Should win – Kettle Valley Hayman (not there) and Blue Mountain Reserve

Boy, this would be a great tasting…and one I would pay just to attend! I have cellared half of these wines for a decade or more, and tasted the rest a number of times.

Based on my experience, after 5 years in a better than average vintage, you would actually have to pick two wines because of different styles. The Hayman starts tasting/smelling like Burgundy at that age, and there is nothing else in BC like it. Meanwhile, the Blue Mountain Reserve has evolved as well, into a Burgundy/Cali clone. Different, but just as delicious.

By the way, a couple of wines would be sleepers, if only because I haven’t seen them age yet. Both Howling Bluff and La Frenz have stepped up big time in this category…it will be interesting to watch their wines as they age!

b) Would win – Quails Gate Family Reserve or Cedarcreek Platinum or Meyer (either)

Both Quail’s Gate and Cedarcreek are long time darlings of the industry. They do make good (if often expensive) wine, but not as good as either the Blue Mountain Reserve of Kettle Valley Hayman (or the Kettle Valley Reserve, La Frenz Reserve, Howling Bluff and Averill Creek Reserve). Same for Meyer.

Best Regular Pinot Noir

My Nominees: Averill Creek, La Frenz, Eau Vivre, Moraine, Blue Mountain, Quail’s Gate, Cedarcreek, Meyer, Okanagan Crush Pad, Tantalus

a) Should win – Eau Vivre (not there) or Averill Creek

Eau Vivre is a back to back Lieutenant Governor Award winner and still about $20…’nuff said! A great wine, year in, year out. And Averill Creek’s regular Pinot Noir is a stunning achievement, not just for Vancouver Island, but for anywhere.

Others to watch? La Frenz’s new regular Pinot Noir, and Moraine (a new kind on the block).

b) Would win – Okanogan Crush Pad, Tantalus

The former is the latest media darling – a spot for winemakers to come make their wines. A good idea, but I haven’t tasted great Pinot yet. And Tantalus? They are one of the founders of this event…
Now, let’s wait for the media to report out this weekend!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

In Praise of Younger Wines

March 20, 2015

Okay, back after basketball, a bad cold and Spring Break…so what to write about? How about something I have never touched on before, and which I haven’t traditionally supported.

And that’s drinking your “cellar wines” when they are young?

As most know, the rationale for not doing this is that so-called “big red wines” can be tannic and harsh when young. Age – anywhere from 5 – 15+ years – can deal with this issue, as well as lead to the development of so-called secondary aromas and flavours.

But I had an amazing experience a couple of weeks ago that challenged this traditional approach!

I was looking to buy some special wine to celebrate an amazing accomplishment, wines that would mature over the years so could remember that event far into the future. In scanning the options at the wine store, I saw a candidate – the ’12 Cabernet Sauvignon 40th Anniversary by Caymus. Not cheap ($72), but rated 96 by Parker, a 20+ year development profile, and the fact that the wine itself was commemorating something! Then – intriguingly – some comments that suggested it was drinking very well now. Add in the fact I had recommended it to a client a while back for a dinner party (it was the star wine), and I decided to go for it. Two for the cellar, one to drink now.

The result? Well, I was gobsmacked!

As the review said, the wine was the essence of black currant liqueur – super ripe, but not sweet or jammy, super long finish, and any tannins were buried in the fruit. It was as good a wine — young or old – as I have ever had!

That’s what got me thinking – should I do this more often? The fruit was so tempting…

But the price! One of my rationalizations for buying cellar wine is I will pay more than my day to day wines (I try to stick to around $15) in order to enjoy them years later while mature and – if I could find them – when they would be two to three times the price. Without that rationalization in place, my whole wine strategy was kinda blown to pieces.

So what to do?

I still haven’t come up with a permanent answer to that question. One solution might be to ‘splurge’ once in a while on an everyday wine. Another might be to buy an extra bottle of cellar wine to try/drink right away.

Both obviously have financial implications. But they have ‘enjoyment’ implications as well!

Maybe something to keep thinking about?

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com