Chenin lovin'

Two weeks ago while Meghan and over 90 others were drinking nothing but blended fruit and vegetable drinks I was at the Hobbs and Co. Wine Merchants Inc. 3rd Annual Portfolio Tasting at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, tasting wines and eating my weight in cheese and bread. It was a rainy evening that would have kept me indoors if it weren’t for the wine event and a magazine launch that followed it. My tour guide:  Kerri Henman. Kerri, you may remember, is the friend who told me about truffle salt. She used to work for Hobbs and occasionally works their tastings. The event was part of a day of wine education, that had, earlier in the day, included sommeliers and buyers.

It’s great to have friends with differing interests that help provide varied experiences and from whom I can learn.

We hit the event in two circuits: Whites, then reds. I won’t go through every wine we tasted but I will go through my tasting notes, scribbled inside the booklet provided to do so along with a list of wines and their description and prices.

Without even looking at my notes I can tell you this: The tasting event reminded me of how much I like chenin blanc. I believe it was Kerri who introduced me to chenin blanc.

First wine of the evening, on the white circuit: Quails’ Gate Winery Chenin Blanc (2008). I tasted citrus – lemon and lime – and pear. And the thing is, I really did taste those flavours. I turned to Kerri and enthused that I “got it” and didn’t feel like a poser.

First up on the red circuit: Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch (2006). I wrote that it was sweet and jammy. I want to try it again to see how it compares to Port. I like Port. I put an asterisk next to it although now I don’t recall what that means. I think it means that I liked it, because check marks mean that I tried it but didn’t take notes.

Moving over to New Zealand: 2008 Tinpot Hut Sauvignon Blanc (link is PDF) from the region of Marlborough. The description says, “Lively and refreshing with  grassy, grapefruit and gooseberry aromas and flavours. Lovely minerality, richness and Sauvingnon pungency. A dry, silky palate and long finish.” I wrote, “smokey”, which makes me think that this is one I didn’t like. There was one that was very distinctive and really not my taste.

Going red in New Zealand: The sweet and fruity 2006 Takutai Pinot Noir. Say “Takutai” out loud. It’s fun. Your tongue tap dances between your teeth and the roof of your mouth.

Tried some Australians, didn’t take notes. There was the Chalker’s Crossing 2008 Semillion (2008 reserve is not listed on their website) and a Clairault Wines 2008 Sauvingnon Blanc.

Down to South Africa for another chenin blanc: 2008 Franschhoek Vineyards Chenin Blanc. I like South African things (their accents are cute and I’ve never met a Jew of South African decent who wasn’t a mench)  and I like chenin blanc. I therefore had high expectations. This one blew me away with flavours of butter and brown sugar. These flavours weren’t in the description but hey, that’s what I got from it.

Also from South Africa, the Juno Cape Maidens Chardonnay was subtle with a hint of sweetness.

Ich mag das essen, ich mag das wein. Ich mag das Leitz wine.
(I like food, I like wine. I like the Leitz wine.)
I remember no German from when I studied it in university, but anyway… The wine I refer to here is Leitz Riesling Kabinett and Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spatlese, both 2007. I’d link to the website but it’s all in German.

Regarding the Riesling Kabinett: It was a nice drinking experience. The wine feels bubbly but it’s not. It wants to be a sparkling wine but it’s not. It seems to pop in your mouth.  My notes say “stone fruit” “sweet” “Like bubbly but not” “Spicey”. Regarding the Riesling that’s too long to say: “Sweet” “dessert”. Bigger name, less of an impact. 🙂

Bienvenue! Time for a little French wine action. The 2006 Château Grand Moulin (French website) St. Jean tasted of strawberries. The Bioghetto RM13 Blanc 2007 was nice.  I tasted bananas.

Almost done, over to Italy to be served by a charming guy with an Australian accent (*swoon*): 2007 Cantine di Monteforte Ponte Pietra Merlot/Corvina and 2005 Alpha Zeta ‘A’ Amarone dellaValpolicella . Both reds. The first was handpicked by Jamie Oliver to be on his restaurant wine list but to me – Kerri too – it was the Amarone that really shined. By that point I’d had enough wine. I wasn’t going to bother with those last Italian wines. The I tried the Amarone, and then I needed to sample it again. I noticed cherry vanilla and fruit cake and overall yumminess. I noted cherry vanilla in the merlot too but it wasn’t as delicious as the way more expensive Amarone (not that I’m looking to buy).

What stands out from the evening? That last Amarone, the South African Chenin Blanc (Franschhoek Vineyards) and the Chenin Blanc from British Columbia (Quail’s Gate). Also, sharp cheese, a pecorino perhaps (I never identified it) and the creamy brie.

So that’s my overdue wine post.

Eat well, be well.

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