South World Wine Society’s Big and Bold Red Tasting

Last night we were treated to big red wines from the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, 2 wines from each of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. These are all premium wines in the $30-$40 range per bottle. Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Lance Berelowitz, one of the South World Wine Society‘s co-founders, past President and past Cellar Master. Lance is originally from South Africa, but has travelled extensively and has visited Australia, Chile, and Argentina, and provided to us in depth descriptions about each of these wines and regions.

Our wines for this evening:

  • Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile
  • De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  • Norton Malbec Reserva 2005, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina
  • Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia

To these wines we had 3 appetizers:

  • Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Buff with stone fruit compote
  • Smoked Peace Country Lamb Shoulder Arrancinni with tomato ragout
  • Braised Shortrib Cannelonni with carmelized onion jus

The Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile is a Bordeaux blend with 85% being from Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder coming from Merlot, Syrah (not Bordeaux), and Petit Verdot.  Alta Cima is a family run winery in Chile in the Lontue Valley which is part of the Curico Valley. This wine was deep garnet from the core to the rim, not showing it’s 9 year of aging yet. Vanilla, oak, dark cherry sweet spice, meaty and pencil lead aromas filled the glass.  Quite complex.  Medium body on the palate, with cherries and blueberry flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Round in the mouth but not quite full bodied.  A nice balanced wine.

Next was the Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile. Miguel Torres, originally from Spain, has a great reputation around the world for their wines, and for opening wineries in other parts of the world.  The Cordillera is a blend primarily with Carignan and lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Deep garnet in colour. A light nose with whiffs of oak, black olives, and dark cherries. Medium body with dark sweet fruit, and some tar and pepperiness.  Quite soft and round in the mouth, with a puckering finish.

The De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa followed.  This is another family run winery.  Their Fusion V is a cult wine amongst wine enthusiasts. This wine is a blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Medium garnet with slight bricking on the rim of the wine, indicating it’s age. Meaty, pencil leads, earthy and red fruits on the nose. Medium body with dried red and black fruits, low acidity and tannins.  We all agreed that this wine is past it’s prime and we were sampling it on it’s way down.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa. Paarl is more inland than Stellenbosch, affording a warmer climate, which the Syrah grape loves. Deep garnet to the rim in the glass. Smoky, raspberries and oak on the nose. On the palate an array of flavours including smokiness, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and spice.  Medium plus body with medium acid to keep the flavours bright. Long length. An excellent wine.

The first wine from Argentina was the Norton Malbec Reserva 2005. This is from the famous Mendoza region of Argentina, which is well-known for Malbec.  It is a high altitude desert that is fed with the precious water from the Andes Mountains. This wine had a light nose with some mint and plum. Medium body with dark fruit and oak. Soft tannins.  The group tasting the wine today also agreed that this wine was just OK.  Not very complex.

On the other hand the Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina was quite complex and interesting.  The San Juan region is to the north of Mendoza.  Not as well known, but produces very nice wine, if this wine is any indication of quality. Deep ruby in colour.  Light nose with oak, dark fruit, plum, coffee and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. Full body with firm tannins.  Dark fruit flavours with medium acidity and a dry finish. This wine paired nicely with the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Puff with stone fruit compote.

On to Australia. Our first wine was the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia. The two owners of Two Hands are similar to négociants from Burgundy.  They do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards to produce wines to their particular standards. This wine had some sediment in the glass, which we thought could be tartrate crystals. These crystals can form when the wine gets too cold.  It is a natural process, and should not be considered a fault in a wine. The wine was deep purple in the glass but was cloudy and not clear.  I am not sure if this wine was filtered, but if unfiltered, you could get this cloudiness. Nice nose with eucalyptus, vanilla, ripe dark fruit and chocolate. Medium plus body with soft, round mouthfeel.  Ripe cherries, chocolate and spiciness on the palate. This wine was the favorite of the room this evening.

The last wine was the Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia. This is an interesting wine as the shiraz is blended with a few percent of the white muscadelle grape to add in some aromatics.  Medium garnet in colour.  Light nose of vanilla and dark fruit.  Round with soft tannins.  Blueberries, vanilla, cloves and some salty minerality on the palate.  A good balance of oak, fruit and acidity.

MyWinePal Wine Picks:

  1. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  2. Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina

The Favorites from the Room:

  1. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  2. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa

Marquis Wine Cellars Social Media Tasting Highlights!

Thank you very much to Mr. John Clerides, the owner of Marquis Wine Cellars, for opening up a variety of sparkling, white, and red wines for us, wine bloggers to try.  What wines did we get to try? There were 14 different wines, and I will outline here in this blog the ones that I liked the most.  These wines are all available at Marquis Wine Cellars, so feel free to go by their shop to pick up a bottle or two.

Onto the wines!  There was one sparkling wine in our tasting line-up which I quite enjoyed.  The Champagne Agrapart NV Terroirs Blanc de Blanc, France, ($54.90) is made solely from the Chardonnay grape.  This wine was medium lemon in colour.  Nice bready, lemon, and apple aromas.  Fine bubble with a dry mouthfeel.  Lemon and some sweet spice on the palate with a long lingering finish.

One white of note was the Lusco do Mino Albarino 2009, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain ($24.90).  Rias Baixas is a cooler region in the northwest area of Spain.  The Albarino grape produces a higher acid wine that is very aromatic.  This wine had a light flowery nose.  Light in body with lychee, almond, apple and spice on the palate.  Very tasty.

My second white wine pick was the Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot Gris 2006, Herrenweg, Alsace, France ($32.90). This Pinot Gris was quite a deep lemon colour.  Sweet apricot nose.  It smelled very much like an ice wine, with that same level of aromatic intensity. It was though medium body and dry on the palate, with marmalade and apricot flavour.  Quite impressive.

My last white wine choice was the Le Mont Bonnezeaux 2004, Loire Valley, France ($38.90).  Although the variety of grape is not obvious, coming from the Loire Valley, this was a Chenin Blanc.  Another deeply lemon coloured wine. This one had honey and some stone fruit on the nose.  Medium + body, a bit of sweetness.  Round mouthfeel with apple, mushroom, and oak flavours.  An unctus wine.

What about the red wines? My overall favorite was the Domino de Tares Cepas Viejas 2007, Bierzo, Spain ($29.90). This wine is made from the indigenous grape called Mencia. This grape grows in the cooler northwest corner of Spain.  It is a lower acid grape with red fruit aromas and flavours and earthy richness.  The Bierzo region is also being touted as the next Priorat of Spain!  This wine was A deep blackish purple in colour.  Vanilla and sweet black fruit on the nose.  Full body with medium tannins, sweet ripe black fruit, vanilla, with cinnamon spice on the mid palate.  Good acidity to balance the fruit and full body of this wine.  I hope we get to see more Spanish wines from Bierzo at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival this April as Spain is the theme country!

My other red wine selection was the Domaine Roc des Anges Cepas Viejas 2006, Roussillon, France ($39.90). This is a blend with primarily carignan and I am guessing grenache noir, and syrah from my quick research on the web. This wine is dark garnet in the glass. Dried cherries, licorice, and dried herbs on the nose.  Full of flavour, with ripe cherries and a spicy mid palate.  Dry with medium tannins and medium length.

To go with all the wines at this evening’s tasting was a selection of cheeses from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese and assorted appetizers from Louis Gervais Fine Foods and Catering.

A new wine and cheese experience

Every region of France has it’s own unique cheese. In Burgundy, one of those cheeses is the Epoisses de Bourgogne. This cheese has a cream cheese type texture and an orangey, wrinkled rind. The rind is washed with the marc de Bourgogne as it ripens. Marc is the left over juices after squeezing out the fermented grape skins and then distilling these juices. The cheese was semi-firm with a woody / nutty aroma. The aroma was not as strong as the previous cheeses. It had a cottage cheese flavour, with nutty flavoured rind, and a hint of saltiness. Quite nice.

The wine I paired with it was from the Rhone valley. It was the Chateau de Beaulieu, La Chatelaine, 2007, Cotes de Rhone. The blend was 60% grenache, and the remainder unknown amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan. This wine was the Medaille de Bronze award from the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2008. It was a deep purple colour in the glass. There were intense aromas of meat, pepper, red and black fruits. The red and black fruit flavours continued on the palette. It was very peppery and had a long finish. Very full bodied, low tannins and good acidity. The fruit and black pepper flavours of the wine complemented the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese. It was a great pairing. Salut!