Inception A Red Blend from South Africa: My Review

I received a bottle of Inception 2012, a red blend of 81% Shiraz, 10% Petit Verdot, and 9% Mourvedre. This wine I was told is being released first in Canada before the rest of the world. It is produced in South Africa, a country that has its feet in both the Old World and the New World of wine making style. Wines that I have tasted in the past from South Africa, tended to be enjoyed with meals more than on their own.

From the information provided with this wine, it appears that quite a bit of care was taken to hand pick the grapes, then ferment each grape variety separately in stainless steel tanks. followed by a full malolactic fermentation (to make the wine smoother and rounder), followed by aging in oak barrels for 12-14 months and blending.

Inception 2012 bottle and glass of wine

Inception 2012 bottle and glass of wine

My Tasting Notes for Inception 2012

The wine is deep ruby in colour.  It has a pronounced nose, with primary aromas of red fruit, smoke and meatiness, followed secondarily with raspberry, vanilla, leather and chocolate.  It has a bit of sweetness to it, at 17.2 g/l of residual sugar.  Quite soft, round and smooth on the palate, but overall has a very light mouth feel.  Mainly red fruit and chocolate flavours, with lesser amouhts of red cherry and black currant.  The sweetness is the first sensation you get on the palate and continues to the finish.  On the finish you get mouth watering acidity and pepperiness.  The tannins are very light on this wine, and I think would help to bring a bit more structure to the wine.  This wine will be a hit for those of you who like Apothic Red or Yellowtail wines.  I think people who do not like tannic wines and just want something to sip at a party would enjoy this wine.  The price is nice.  In BC $14.99 a bottle.

IVSA Wine Picks for June 7, 2011 Tasting

This is probably the last Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) tasting of new wine, beer, and spirits until September. Everyone needs a summer vacation. The IVSA event showcases new wines (or new vintages of wines), beers, and spirits reaching the BC market. It is always exciting to see what new gems I can find and pass along to you. So here are my recommendations!

White Wines

Tiera Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, California, 2009. Watery lemon colour.  Light citrus nose.  Medium acidity. Very juicy on the palate with citrus and some apple.

La Chablisienne Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2010, France. Pale lemon. Some nettle, light gooseberry and lime aromas. Herbal, nettle flavour, medium body and length. An elegant wine.

Carmen Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Chile. Bright lemon in the glass. Lots of gooseberry and lime aromas. Medium body and high in acidity. Green and gooseberry flavours, with a flowery finish.

Honig Sauvignon Blanc ‘Napa’ 2009, California. Watery lemon. Nice herbal, gooseberry and flowers on the nose. High acidity with red apple, flowers and citrus flavours. A bit of roundness. A top value from Wine Spectator.

Red Wines

Olivares Jumilla Rose 2010, Spain. I reviewed this rose during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival and recommended it.  Tasting it again today, I still recommend it. Bright cherry colour. Light cherry nose.  Light body with ripe red cherries and strawberry flavours. Medium acid and low tannins. Very refreshing.

Finca Las Moras Reserva Shiraz 2006, Argentina. This one is the deal of the tasting.  It is a speculative wine.  The price of this wine is $11.99 a bottle. Buy a case and enjoy with bbq all summer. Opaque purple in colour.  Tarry, meaty, dark cherry and vanilla aromas.  Brooding. Full body with vanilla, black cherries and soft tannins.

Domaine La Fond, Cotes du Rhone 2009, France. This is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. Medium garnet. Cassis nose. Medium body with dark chocolate, cassis and spice.  Firm tannins with a dry finish.  This is a nice wine, but it needs to be paired with food for full enjoyment.

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Mendoza, Argentina. Medium ruby. Nice nose of vanilla, cassis and ripe cherries. Ripe cassis, black cherries and vanilla flavours. Spicy with plum coming in later. Round on the palate with firm, yet fine tannins. Very tasty.

Manium Crianza 2007, Bierzo, Spain, 2007.  If you have never tried wine made from the Mencia grape, here is your chance.  Deep purple in the glass, with earthy, chocolate and black cherry aromas. Full body with ripe black cherries, cassis, milk chocolate and sweet spices. Very nice.

Chateau La Gordonne, Les Gravieres Rose 2010, Cotes de Provence, France. This rose is a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, mourvedre and tibouren. Watery pink in the glass. Nice sweet cherry and strawberry aromas. Sweet cherries, bonbon, strawberry flavours. Very juicy. Low tannins with medium length. A fun summer wine. It is a one time buy so get it before it’s gone.

Enjoy the summer with these wines.

A Visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates in Washington State

This past weekend I made a short trip across the border to visit a few wineries in Washington State.  One of the days was a visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates, located in Woodinville, WA.   It was quite a contrast in scale, but the people I spoke to at both wineries were passionate about the wines that they produced.  I like that.  What did I try, and do I have any recommendations for you?  Of course!

Chateau Ste. Michelle

I spent an hour at Chateau Ste. Michelle, being led through a tasting of wines with one of their staff members, Bob.  I appreciate all the time Bob spent with me, considering how busy the tasting room was at that time.  I tried white, red, and dessert wines.

On the white wine side, I thought their Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (US$25.99) was very elegant.  The Cold Creek vineyard is the oldest and hottest vineyard owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Columbia Valley.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.  Would go nicely with some salmon.

An easy drinking white was their Pinot Gris 2008 (US$14.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Lemon, spice and apple aromas.  Crisp acidity, with apple, melon and oak flavour.  Medium body with nice round mouthfeel.

For their red wines, I have a few recommendations.  The Cold Creek Merlot 2007 (US$30) is big and bold.  Deep puple in colour.  Vanilla and cherry on the nose.  Round and smooth on the palate, with tannins kicking in mid palate.  Flavours of ripe black cherries and a hint of chocolate.  Medium length with a very drink finish. Drink now or wait a year.

Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Horse Heaven Hills was also another big wine.  Canoe Ridge is their mid-tier wine level. The grapes for this wine comes from their Horse Heaven Hills vineyard.  Deep purple in colour.  Purple fruit, vanilla, and sweet ripe plum aromas.  Juicy plums and cherry flavours along with vanilla.  Medium body with fine tannins and a dry soft finish.  There was a hint of cedar and some chocolate on the palate as well.  This wine coated my glass.  Very nice.

My last red wine pick is their Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  This wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 92 points from The Wine Advocate, and is my top wine pick!  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

For dessert wines, I was infatuated with their Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (US$60 for 375ml bottle). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  It scored 93 pts in Wine Spectator. The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Airfield Estates Winery

Airfield Estates winery is a family-owned operation.  It has passed through a few generations.  Why “Airfield Estates”?  During WWII the US Military asked the Miller family if they could setup an airbase on their land to train pilots. The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940’s. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off-site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller. These unique buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family’s farming operations up to today. You will notice an aeronautical theme to all their wine labels.  They have a Thunderbolt, Lightning, and Mustang wine, which are three different types of fighter aircraft.

A white wine I particularly liked was their Gewurztraminer 2009 (US$14).  Pale lemon with a green tinge in the glass. Lots of lychee and pear aromas.  Some spiciness with pear and lychee flavour.  Medium length.

Another white I liked was their Lightning 2008 (US$18). This is a Rhone-inspired blend, consisting of 50% Viognier, 25% Rousanne, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Marsanne.  It scored 90 Points on Wine Advocate. Pineapple and vanilla aromas. Medium acidity but still quite a creamy mouthfeel.  Peach and some oak flavours.  Medium length.

On the red side, I enjoyed their Mustang 2008 (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.  I had not heard of the Counoise grape before.  From Wikipedia: “Counoise is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. Counoise adds a peppery note and good acidity to a blended red wine, but does not have much depth of colour or tannin.”  This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Another red wine of note is their Aviator 2008 (US$30). It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec.  A Bordeaux blend, just missing Carmenere.  Medium garnet in colour.  Capsicum, vanilla, plum and some meatiness on the nose.  Medium plus body.  Round up front, then dry on the finish.  Capsicum, vanilla, and cherry flavours.

If you live in the Vancouver, BC area, it is only a short 2 hour car ride to Woodinville, WA.  There are many wineries in the area for you to explore.  Enjoy!