lundi 3 décembre 2007

Canadian Wine Club - The Tasting

Last Thursday, the inaugural tasting of the Canadian Wine Club, an offshoot of the Canada Shop selling Canadian products to Londoners since the summer of 2001, took place at the Little Ship Club in London. This new initiative is greeted with a warm welcome for all of the activity surrounding Canadian wines in the UK these past few years has consisted mostly of downsizing. The extremely competitive UK market and the relatively high cost of production of Canadian wines explain the reduction in the number of Canadian wines available on the UK market. But there is hope on the horizon.

That evening, 20 Bees and Pelee Island wineries have shown that Canada can produce well made wines that can deliver great value for money. 20 Bees joined the ranks of Ontario wineries in 2004 when 19 growers decided to use their home-grown fruit to make wine themselves, and enlisted the help of the young and very talented winemaker, Sue-Ann Staff. There was definitely a buzz at the end of the 20 Bees table and of the six wines presented that evening, the most striking was the crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc (see notes below). Their friendly, low-alcohol Baco Noir also stood out, for it was a well made example of that typical Canadian hybrid variety. It says on the label that the bees aim at producing unpretentious wine at affordable prices, and that is just what they do, with all four still dry wines at £8.39 a bottle.

The wines of Pelee Island Winery showed very good consistency. The unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Reserve are both good examples of their respective grape varieties, but the star of the show, without a doubt, was the Eco Trail Chambourcin-Cabernet Franc. I remember tasting a previous vintage of this wine and not thinking much of it, but the 2006's fruity, concentrated and very modern style won my vote. As it is made from a hybrid variety and is the result of a very unusual blend, it wins maximum points for originality. Its name, Eco trail, reflects the winery's concerns for the preservation of the natural beauty of Pelee Island, which is bound to appeal to the customer. Here as well, prices will not break the bank.

I should not forget to mention Cave Spring's utterly satisfying Riesling H. P. It is light, off-dry and very lively, and I would be happy to sip this well-crafted wine on its own, any day of the week.

I have now found enough good examples of Canadian wines in the UK to hold a tasting and introduce Canadian wines to fellow British tasters. I still hope that one day, the Canadian Wine Club will get its hands on some of the wines from British Columbia's smaller wineries, such as Black Hills, Burrowing Owl and Cedar Creek, for all to enjoy a more complete overview of the Canadian wine scene.

Below are my notes for the still dry wines presented that evening. A much succinct report on sweet wines and my favourite wine of the evening can be found here.

20 Bees Baco Noir 2006, Ontario VQA

Light refreshing nose of the sort you get from simple wines in France, fruity; mainly sour berries, very light, at 10 . 5 % alcohol. Light and fruity, it is the perfect afternoon tipple. Made from one of the hybrids that is unique to Canada, it is definitely original. 16.5/20, £8. 39

20 Bees Cabernet/Merlot 2006, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Unusually fresh and light for such a blend, very mineral, perhaps a little too light but balanced and well made. 16/20, £8.39

20 Bees Riesling 2006, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Bright; very closed; a little sweetness and a waxy texture, light, clean, with a certain minerality, not hugely long but well made. 16/20, £8.39

20 Bees Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Ontario VQA

Very bright; enticing floral character that is far from extreme greenness, some anise seed, aromatic but gentle; very crisp and refreshing, clean, good fruit concentration and length. Well done! 17/20, £8.39

Cave Spring Riesling Estate 2006 , Beamsville Bench VQA

Closed only just a slight flinty whiff; off dry with a very limey attack, rubbery mineral and grapefruit notes, very fresh. 16.5/20, £10.13

Cave Spring Riesling H. P. 2006 , Niagara Peninsula VQA

The nose is limey, flinty and mineral; off - dry and very satisfying, good balance and weight, lively acidity, some floral notes, sort of a half way house between Germany and Australia. Very good! 17.5/20, £8.49

Mission Hill S. L. C. Chardonnay 2004, Okanagan Valley VQA

Closed but soft and enticing buttery nose; a little too oaky and buttery but a lively acidity and some minerality are keeping it balanced; better than the Sauvignon Blanc. 16/20, £17.95

Mission Hill S. L. C. Merlot 2003, Okanagan Valley VQA

Youthful and closed; nice whiff of smoky oak, easy to drink as it is devoid of rough edges so in that sense, very Merlot, but much better than most uncomplicated and gluggable examples of the same variety . Good! 17/20, £19.95

Mission Hill S . L . C . Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon 2004, Okanagan Valley VQA

Sauvignon and its green aromas on the one side and Sémillon's typical fatness on the other, but not so together, seems to be lacking the concentration to match the oak. 15.5/20, £17.95

Mission Hill S. L. C. Syrah 2003, Okanagan Valley VQA

Youthful with grainy tannins and green sappy finish, smoky oak, restrained style with slight austerity; definitely needs time. 16.5/20, £19.95

Pelee Island Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2006, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Mainly citrus fruits and some of Chablis' steeliness; good weight and length; Not spectacular, but a good wine. 16.5/20, £8.95

Pelee Island Winery Eco Trail Chambourcin /Cabernet Franc 2006, Ontario VQA

The nose is a little numb and hides what the palate has in store: juicy sour red berries in excellent concentration and some floral notes; not so big yet holds its place, very long. A fruit bomb style staying clear of heaviness and over extraction. Delicious, a winner! 17.5/20, £8.95

Pelee Island Winery Pinot Noir Reserve 2005, Pelee Island VQA

Gently perfumed with a typical lead pencil aroma; plenty of juicy fruit, very soft and well - made. Charming and not too expensive for a Pinot Noir. 17/20, £10.95

Southbrook Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Niagara-on-the-Lake VQA

Bright, with hints of flint; bone dry, very fresh, even a little demanding. To have with food.

16/20, £16.00

Southbrook Chardonnay 2004, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Slight oxydation on the nose and may not have been the best bottle to taste, not appealing, too much oak, plenty of citrus fruit, definitely needs time . 15/20, price not available

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2000, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Very appealing evolved nose of white pepper, butter and oak, some finesse; oak still very present and persists on the finish, good weight; a good glass of wine. 16.5/20, £16.95

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Meritage 2001, Okanagan Valley VQA

The nose is gentle and integrated with smoke and lead pencil and some floral aromas; very presentable, good length. 16.5/20, price not available

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Alchemy Chardonnay 2000, Oakanagan Valley VQA

Cooked fruits, flat and not very appealing; strange mix of cheese and sweet notes followed by a very bitter finish; the wine was too old or out of condition. 14.5/20, price not available

Aucun commentaire: