Continued from Part 1 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Highlights from the recent Fall BC VQA trade tasting.
It seems that nearly every winery in BC these days is possessed to produce a big, Bordeaux-styled blend. Why? I don't know. Could be the competitive nature of the personalities involved in the wine business. Could be that the influence of Bordeaux is so far reaching that most folks simply find comfort in the familiar. Or, it could simply be that Merlot and the Cabernets go really well together, especially when they get dressed up in fine oak staves and accessorize with a touch of Petit Verdot here and dab of Malbec there.
Blackwood Lane 2007 Alliance
Available now. Big, juicy, refined and very complex, but a slight funkiness on the nose will have you seeking out more of the still available 2006 vintage.
Black Widow 2008 Hourglass
Available now. A blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc which delivers a port-like intensity with a little too much candied fruit on the nose.
Cassini Cellars 2009 Maximus
Available Oct 1st. Perhaps, not as "big" as the 2008 overall, but more refinement on the palate is a welcomed attribute of this new vintage. Based on the pedigree of previous releases and the new use of a real cork enclosure, development seems like a safe bet along with a long lifespan of nearly ten years.
Church and State 2008 Quintessential
Available in early October. Church and State's signature blend (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant) is amazingly consistent year to year. Classic new world, fruit-forward, beast of a wine, yet refined and elegant. Finish goes on and on.
Ex Nihilo 2007 Night
Available now. Tannins are a bit green, but still a very tasty blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc with good concentration or dark fruit characters and oak which is ready to go. No bottle aging required.
Fairview Cellars 2009 The Bear
$35 14.9% 300 cases
Available now. The best Bear since 2005. Eclipses the fantastic 2008 vintage with more concentration and attitude. Uses all 5 Bordeaux varietals for added complexity.
Noble Ridge 2008 Reserve Meritage
Available now. New for 2008, Noble Ridge has released two Meritage blends. A $20 entry level, Stelvin capped, Merlot driven blend with entry-level intrigue. And this "Reserve" Meritage at $30 which sees better barrels and better fruit resulting in a wine that's miles better than its little brother.
Painted Rock 2009 Red Icon
Not yet released. We don't just love this wine for its bold and familiar name. We love it for its uniqueness in the world of cookie-cutter big reds. The first vintage (2007) had Petit Verdot as the leading grape in the blend... yeah, Petit Verdot! None of the corporate wineries would ever try that. (And to be fair, I doubt proprietor John Skinner would ever again either... the bane of originality.) These bold risks have mostly all paid off delivering a unique blend from a picture perfect vineyard offering honest vintage variation. The 2009 is a blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 1% Syrah delivering massive concentration and complexity. California cult blends come to mind while tasting. Well done Team Painted Rock!
See-Ya-Later Ranch 2008 Ping
Available now. Sturdy, decent complexity on offer here in this Merlot-leading blend. Not as "big" as the 2006 version, but juicier and more approachable. Very well priced.
Seven Stones 2008 Meritage
Available now. Blend of 58% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot produced with fruit grown in the Similkameen Valley. A beautiful nose greets you then a soft and very smooth palate brings it home. Ready to go now so enjoy it while you're waiting for the Painted Rock Icon to mellow.
Tinhorn Creek 2008 2 Bench Red
Available Oct 1st. May not be the Master of Balance that was the 2007 edition, but the 2008 still delivers. A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc which delivers a potpourri of savoury and fruity characters wrapped in a mouth-watering, sweet oak and very dry palate.
A few other wines from the trade tasting worth mentioning should you be looking for something other than a Meritage blend or Cabernet. All reds.
Blackhills Estate 2009 Syrah
Available now. Soft, spicy, nice blend of old world texture and weight with new world fruit. Long finish. Very good first vintage for the boutique winery. 2% Viognier added for extra aromatics and colour.
Churh and State 2009 Syrah
Available in early October. Another solid south okanagan valley Syrah produced from the winery's Coyote Bowl vineyard offering good typicity within an easy-drinking presentation.
La Stella 2008 Maestoso
$90 14.7% 150 cases
Not yet available. A blockbuster of a wine filled with explosive action sequences and romantic intrigue. Wow! Priced for serious collectors only.
Road 13 2009 Merlot-Syrah
$40 14.5% 300 cases
Available now. As advertised, a blend of Merlot (74%) and Syrah (25%) with 1% of Viognier added for good measure. Unique. Nice and spicy. Not a "big" red wine, more elegant and reserved, but very complex.
Keep a look out for full reviews of these wines on http://www.iconscores.ca/ during the Fall as the wines get released.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011 IconWines.ca