My friend Terrence is a fabulous guy. Why is that, you ask? Well, amongst other attributes, he invited me (and some others in our wine class) to a tasting at his company’s Yaletown offices (Trialto).
We tried almost 30 recent releases including 5 Grower’s Champagnes and there were certainly some lovely wines amongst the bunch. Highlights for me included the NV 100% Grand Cru Henri Billiot Brut Reserve Champagne ($60). Apparently M. Billiot doesn’t filter or have any of his champagnes undergo MLF. Yeasty and toasty, this was 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay.
Another one to remember – the Domaine Marc Morey Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru ‘Les Referts’ 2009 ($100). I’d always thought I didn’t like wooded chardonnays was because the wood was so heavy and hard. But it’s because likely the first one I’d tried was such poor quality – and I associated all chardonnays with that first one. This was elegant and beautifully integrated. It’s easy to see why this family has been successfully making Burgundian wines in the Cote de Beaune for over a century.
At $180 a bottle, I was also eager to try the Faiveley Corton, Clos des Cortons. It was, in WSET parlance, outstanding. Transparent ruby, delicate cherries and oak, spice box and an exquisitely long finish. Truly outstanding Grand Cru pinot noir from Cote de Beaune, Burgundy.
Honourable mentions go to the Patricia Green Winery Estate Pinot Noir from Ribbon Ridge, Oregon, 2009 ($50), Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ, 2010 ($55) made by the former winemaker from Cloudy Bay, and another wooded Burgundian pinot, Domaine Latour-Giraud Pommard Cuvee Carmen, 2009 ($60).
Terrence and I got a kick out of the J+J Eger Winery Kekfrankos, 2007 ($28), having never tried a Hungarian red before. We’ve read an awful lot about them, but our WSET training concentrated mostly on sweet whites, puttonyos and aszu – not kekfrankos, kardaka or egri bikaver (the infamous ‘Bull’s Blood’ wines of Hungary). Full of black fruit, cedar and smoke, we thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to goulash. Kekfrankos, by the way, is another name for the Austrian varietal Blaufrankish, also known as Lemburger (in the US, especially Washington State).
The Antiyal from Chile hails from Maipo and what appears to be a unique winery. Winemaker Alvaro Espinoza (whom Terrence met earlier this year) runs a completely organic and biodynamic vineyard. The 2009 wine, a deep crimson is full of mint, mint, mint – oh, and lots of wild berry. It goes for $59.
Finally, a tip of the hat to one of the last ones we tried – the Aalto from Ribera del Duero DO, Spain, 2009 ($69). Made from old Tinta Fina vines (a synonym for Baga, one of the main Portuguese varietals), the wine is full of ripe red and black fruit, licorice, cigar and vanilla – straight on vanilla pod, cut-it-with-a-knife vanilla. Interestingly enough, Mariano Garcia, Aalto’s owner and vintner used to be the head winemaker at the famed Vega Sicilia.
What a great way to spend the afternoon – thanks, Terrence!