Another mini-vertical tonight but my bro-in-law decided that, after some success with the Chateau Musar at our "Oddities Night", he would crash this Barossa party with a Lebanese wine. A Cab/Shiraz blend, it was a perfect match for my Yalumba tasting. This one is for you, Fadi!
Three wines, similar grapes, and harvested within a 12 month period, but with such different terroirs and styles - it should have been easy to pick out the Lebanese in this blinded tasting, right?
The 2001 Chateau Kefraya "Comte de M" is regarded in some circles as Lebanon's greatest bottling, vying with the Musar for that honour. A dark cherry red in the glass - similar to the others - but on the nose this wine was very different from the other two. Earthy, with melted chocolate, tea, liquorice, grendadine, cedar, musk, leather and compote - very complex, but an unusual wine that could be polarizing. On the palate is was a touch austere, even rustic. Very dry, with ample acidity and big tannins that made this full-bodied wine seem a touch off-balance. A lengthy finish, it softened up over the eveing, and it should be a few years before this wine struts its stuff. Nicely done, but I think I may have preferred the Musar. Rematch in five years.
cork. 14% alcohol
Price: $50 (SAQ)
The 2001 Yalumba "The Signature" comes from Australia's Barossa Valley, and is a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz. Deep, purpley-red in the glass with no signs of aging. Pepper and blackberry on the early nose, exploding over the evening with violet, strawberry, truffle, leather, vanilla, smoke and a hint of tarriness. Crisp currant fruit and very dry, dusty tannins on the palate, some tarry notes, this wine had an extremely long finish. This elegant, Bordeaux-styled wine was my favourite of the evening.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
The 2002 Yalumba "The Signature" was so different from the 2001 that it was not easy to pick out the Lebanese wine amongst the three bottles. Deep, dark purple in the glass. Violet, blackberry, and vegetal notes dominated, later showing cherry, cedar, coffee, tobacco, cocoa and eucalyptus. Silky and elegant, it was juicier and more accessible than the others, yet had a very long finish and could also benefit from some cellar time. Definitely not a fruit bomb, but more fruit forward than the 2001.
cork. 14.5% alcohol
Price: C$43.50 (SAQ)
Despite a trio of warm climate cab/shiraz wines, there were no fruit bombs here tonight. These were complex, elegant and structured wines, and great pairings for Beef Wellington. As I tasted these a number of questions came to mind:
1) The '01 Signature was panned by Wine Spectator (87 pts), yet 95 points from Mr. Parker. Were they tasting the same wine? Perhaps Mr. Parker's roots in Bordeaux give him a better appreciation for this style?
2) The '02 Signature was better reviewed by WS (91), and similarly reviewed by RP (96). Hmmm - fruity and not fruity, but same in RP's books, but WS needed that extra ripeness to give it a decent score? Food for thought.
3) Is the Kefraya Comte de M Lebanon's best? A very well made wine and different from the Musar, which seems to come from another era. But the Musar was just so different, and therein lies he charm, in my mind.
4) There was a piece to the Comte de M and the Musar that was very similar, despite very different grapes and vintages. Earthy and liquorice-y, a Lebanese terroir?
(PS - apologies for the crappy photo)