Saturday, March 29, 2008

Montreal Salon des Vins, Day 2

My good friend Andreas joined me for a few hours on Day 2 of the Montreal Salon des Vins and was an inspired tasting companion - we covered a lot of ground before my wife and members of my tasting group arrived to stand in for Andreas' liver. I collected notes on twenty wines - here are some highlights:

- we started at the Univins booth, spending quality time with the good folks from Catena. Catena is one of my favourite wine producers, making high quality varietal wines that are amongst the best in the world at every single price point. They were pouring a Merlot and a Syrah, and both were atypical New World representations of these varietals. The 2005 Catena Merlot had a nose of chocolate and dark cherry fruit but the palate was the exact opposite - dry, thin, light, crisp and well structured with green tannins, very charming. Even better was the 2005 Catena Syrah - at 13.5% alcohol this was not your typical New World Syrah, with a subtle peppery nose, not over-oaked or overly fruity - very well balanced and a terrific value. Jorge of Catena appreciated my kind words and poured me a freebie - a short pour of their best wine, the 2003 Nicolas Catena Zapata - attractive herbaceous and floral notes on the nose, also spicy, crushed berries - elegant and reserved - so unlike anything I have ever tasted from this country - a very, very special wine (it sold out)...

- next up were the wines of Chateau Ollieux Romanis, wines from the Corbieres appellation of France's Languedoc-Roussillon. The 2005 Atal Sia was interesting, a touch hot and awkward, but I really liked the 2004 Ollieux Romanis Cuvee Or - a big powerful wine of Carignan/Grenache/Mourvedre, it was extraordinarily complex with dusty tannins and a nice long finish - stick this baby in the cellar for a few years.

- a key objective for Andreas and I were the wines of Germany and Alsace. Andreas and I spent a good amount of time at the Dopff et Irion counter, skipping right past the everyday stuff and diving into the Grands Crus. The 2004 Grand Cru Vorbourg Pinot Gris was beautiful - yeast, honey, flowers and orange peel on the nose, creamy lemony-mango on the palate with a minerally/slatey backbone. Even more impressive was the 2004 Grand Cru Schoenenbourg Riesling - classic petrol nose, limes, crisp and focused on the palate, with honey and a terrific chalkiness - thrilling. Rewarding our enthusiasm, the pourer gave us a sample of the 1994 Gewurtztraminer Selections des Grains Nobles Grand Cru - a truly stunning example, I may never buy a Sauternes again.

- I truly enjoyed S.A. Prum's wines, especially the 2005 Wehlener Sonnenhur Riesling Kabinett QmP (Mosel) - steely, gravelly, smokey honey - soft, luscious and balanced, I loved rolling this across my tongue. The 2005 Wehlener Sonnenhur Riesling Spatlese (Mosel) - was even more elegant, but a touch less interesting.

After the Salon we went to Chez Delmo for dinner, where I made the greatest wine find of the night. The 2005 Domaine Tripoz Mâcon-Loché was very floral and apple-y (think ripe Pink Lady), sweet creme brulee - dry, creamy apple fruit on the palate - very unlike any other Chardonnay I have ever tasted - my first taste of this appellation. Not available in stores - in fact I couldn't find a single Mâcon-Loché available at the SAQ - sigh.

Another great day of tasting.

Quote of the Evening: "This wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." - my wife.

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