With the Gods of Business Travel looking favourably upon me, I found myself seated at the front of the airplane for a change. For most airlines this means free alcoholic beverages. So, with four hours to kill an impromptu tasting was in order. It started well - beyond the obligatory "White or red?" question, I was even asked if I would prefer the "Merlot" or the "Shiraz", both from different wineries. Two thumbs up for giving me a choice - Bravo, Air Canada!
My "merlot" selection was a Jackson Triggs Proprietor's Selection Merlot, non-vintage. It was a bright cherry red, with little to no oak, allowing for the youthful merlot to express itself - fruity (cherry, blackberry), nutty and vegetal, on the nose it was a pleasant, classic, yet subdued merlot. On the palate it was surprisingly rich and soft, given the low alcohol content, with nice fruity flavours and a short finish. While uncomplex, this was an enjoyable little red for everyday drinking, nicely made without resorting to the crutches of heavy oak or overextraction. Normally I avoid Canadian wines like the plague, but this was not bad. Of course it was 'cellared in Canada', meaning foreign grapes...
At this point I should apologize for the misleading title, which has likely captured some unwitting surfers looking for something a little 'spicier' than Canadian Merlot. But with some wine bloggers using the names of Miss Universe contestants for increased traffic it is hard to compete!
My next wine was a white, which once again came in two selections, in this case a "French" and a "Chardonnay". The 2005 Domaine de Pellehaut was a Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard and Gros Manseng, it was pale yellow, with with fresh cut melon, banana, toast and some earthy aromas leaping from the glass. Very Sauvignon blanc on the palate, this simple white was light bodied with crisp acidity and good balance. A good quaffer/big event wine and a nice pairing for the salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
My Shiraz selection came from Argentina. The 2005 Bodega San Telmo Shiraz comes from Mendoza, a region usually associated with Malbec. Deep purple in colour, the nose was very similar to many inexpensive Aussie Shirazes. Very nice aromas, with blackberry, flowers, leather, cocoa and pepper. Medium to full-bodied, it was more crisp and less fruity than most low-end Aussie Shiraz, which will make it easier to pair with a meal. Balanced, with a short finish, this is a wine to drink now. Nicely done.
My last wine was a non-vintage Colio Chardonnay, 'cellared' in Canada. Classic New World, lemon and butter, some toast. It was easy drinking with light acidity. Not bad, but very simple and a bit dilute. A good patio quaffer at the right price.
Stay tuned for the return flight...