Question: What is the hot wine trend so far in 2021?
Answer: Your scribe is not a big follower of wine trends. They may be interesting but too often are just PR marketing moves to try and sell more commercial wine. Still there seems to be a growing interest this year by consumers from a big fruit driven beverage to a drier, less sweet, fresh, lower alcohol style of wines with a better acidity balance. I think this is a good thing or an encouraging trend. Yesterday VinePair featured: “Pucker Up: With Sour Flavors Trending in Beer and Cocktails, What’s Next For Wine?“. They suggested wines with higher acidity like Albarino & Chablis plus lower dosage bubbles and even mead will be the ticket. Also something that is a bit “funky” stands out as well. Perhaps this is a trend to watch out for!
As we all know one of the few good things to develop out of this continuing pandemic are webinars. What a plethora of information now is out there for everyone on wines from around the world. For the blossoming Canadian wine industry this is good news. They reached a much wider audience on March 23 @HarpersWine in the UK with an interesting overview on Canadian wine that can be seen above.
The panel included Janet Dorozynski @WineTrackMind & Dr. Jamie Goode @jamiegoode plus other wine trade from the UK of Andrew Catchpole Harper’s editor, Sarah Knowles MW The Wine Society, David Gleave MW Liberty Wines, Nik Darlington Grat Wine Co, and Ben Franks Novel Wines. They tasted a variety of Canadian wines listed there from Niagara and the Okanagan. The historical start was Icewine but the current focus was riesling but mainly chardonnay, pinot noir and increasingly popular #GoGamayGo. There was general agreement that “Brand Canada” has goodwill in the UK with a “trust currency” and “emotional attachment” for their overall high quality standards of “remarkable wine” for taking that leap of faith. Lots of admiration for the “clean purity of fruit”, “brightness” with “good acidity” and “freshness”. However the main question seemed to be can they sell? Certainly are doing well in the domestic market of BC & Ontario. However, presently with so many good wines from around the world competing for space on international wine lists it has become a most difficult export wine market. Many great wines are universal at 50+ pounds a bottle but must find customers at around 19.99. At that level there are strong rivals for Canadian chardonnay with French Chablis and Kumeu River from New Zealand. They like the excellent Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2017 from Le Clos Jordanne but 38 (2016 Checkmate Queen Taken 75) while classy 2018 Charles Baker Riesling PIcone Vineyards retails at a better 22 (2018 Henry of Pelham Reserve competitive 15.95). Similarly for the Canadian reds competing against Chianti Classico and Oregon among others for Pinot Noirs like MIssion Hill Reserve 25-28 pounds. Support for Le Vieux Pin Syrah but 35+ yet Haywire Gamay Noir draws interest. Still early days but most encouraging to see the reputation for Canadian wines continuing to grow with “UK impressed” and “Canada moving in the right direction”. Obviously it takes time to establish an export wine market for Canadian wines but it is at least starting. Well done. Good luck!
Question: What is the buzz on Château Pétrus being aged in space?
Answer: Yes a case of 2000 Château Pétrus was part of a study experiment on “growing plants” included on the recent trip by the International SpaceX capsule. Jane Anson of Decanter tasted a returned bottle this month and is quoted as saying “more floral aromatics – tannins were a bit softer and more evolved.” Interesting but a lot ado about nothing so far. Will have to wait for further studies and lab analysis. Not practical at all to age wine in space presently. Fascinating though! We already know that winemakers (especially Champagne) are aging wines underwater because of the conditions of no light, no oxygene, and different pressures. Obviously the environment of outer space could have some influence. Also didn’t like their choice of Petrus and 20 years old one. Didn’t need to be shaken up in space at that stage of its life. Very expensive wine and a quite unique “blue clay” terroir property. Merlot is OK but that variety is more about textures. Would have preferred a choice of a more reasonably priced younger vintage of cabernet sauvignon (even with cab franc & merlot in a blend) to see if the usual structured early big tannins had softened plus the exciting tertiary aromatics had developed sooner than the old 10 year Bordeaux guideline.
Your scribe has been an avid follower of Chris and Beata Tolley back to 2004 when they first acquired an old orchard on the east bench of Osoyoos British Columbia near the US border. Their original name was Twisted Tree but they changed it in 2011 to Moon Curser Vineyards. They together with meticulous vineyard manager Brian Dorosz have cleverly experimented with a number of innovative grape varieties that have proved so successful. Big fan from the beginning of their super Roussanne-Marsanne white blend that is rich and developing real complexity with some bottle age. Recommend the current 2019 (Gold at the 2020 All Canadian Wine Championships) at $27. Amazed last year by the lasting power of their honey-apricot 2007 under the Twisted Tree label bought for $21.90 at 14.2 abv with 48% ripe Viognier (25.4 Brix), 44% Roussanne (23.4B) & only 8% Marsanne (24B) with 20% barrel fermented in American oak & 80% in Stainless Steel. The newer vintages (leaving out Viognier now made as a separate variety) are superior but this early one showed the amazing potential for this blend to other producers in the southern Okanagan. Also admire the fresh 2019 “little rascal” Arneis (also tried Corvina) – the only producer of this Italian white variety in Canada!
The winery cleverly focuses more on reds that suit the hotter climate and specific terroir of East Osoyoos. Border Vines (first called 6 Vines) is a popular Bordeaux five grape blend using Carmenere (also made as a single variety feature as is the Malbec & Petit Verdot) rather than Merlot. Both Cabernets are liking the conditions of the growing place here as is the Syrah. It is the more unique varieties that have become such a hit lately from fruity Dolcetto to elegant Tempranillo to intensely structured Touriga Nacional (another of their many Golds). One grape that has been really catching my attention over the past decade is Tannat, a more robust tannic variety found in the Madiran region of France and also Uruguay. Smartly planted by the Tolleys in 2005 it has proven age worthy indeed both as a distinct single variety and in their fantastic limited production blend with 50% Syrah called Dead of the Night. Tried the current release of 2018 at $40 which impressed me for the big depth of textured intense fruit. However the real treat last week was the amazing aged 2009 at 14.2 abv that had matured into something memorable – a lush smooth rich complex “spicy plums” wine sharing both Tannat & Syrah characteristics to the very best advantage. Liked the use of new French oak (65%) for the Tannat and new Hungarian (25%) for the Syrah providing excellent balanced structure in the final resulting wine blend. A real winner! Superbly matched by a take out order of BBQ ribs from Joey restaurant. Always wondering what is a great wine pairing with BBQ foods? No more. Seek out the Moon Curser Dead of the NIght blend for a try or one of their other excellent big reds. Eye opener indeed and not that scary!
Question: Which vintages from Piedmont in the last decade would you recommend for long term cellaring?
Answer: Yes the nebbiolo grape in Piedmont especially from Barolo & Barbaresco is becoming quite the collector’s item during the last decade. Pretty good run of top vintages recently. Still a very big fan of those classic 2010 especially for Barolo (no Produttori del Barbaresco cru was made this year), purity of 2013, some underrated 2014 in Barbaresco (much more rain in Barolo) and outstanding balanced late ripening vintage 2016. Any top property from those years are recommended as good candidates for your cellar.