Just another dreary release that barely crawls above 60 points on the VRSS. This one focuses on the Midi area of France, a region that is home to some interesting bargain wines. A small number made it to this catalogue – a very small number. Second focus is Easter. The way winter is hanging on and since neither feature is very good perhaps the second feature should be a Nor’easter
There are a few conversation piece wines in this release. The first is represented in the Argentina section. Called Versado, it’s a small winery in the Mendoza with a Canuck connection. It’s co-owned by Peter Gamble, Ann Sperling, Moray Tawse and Gerry McConnell. All are well known in the Canadian wine biz, Gamble works with, among many others, McConnell’s Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia, and Sperling has her eponymous winery in BC as well as working with others in the Okanagan and Southern Ontario. Tawse of course owns Tawse winery, that bastion of overpriced excess in Niagara. The Versado vineyards are approximately 7 or 8 hectares in size (about 20 acres), 3 hectares of which are planted with 80 to 90 year old Malbec vines. According to the winery, each of the vines is 100% European (not grafted on) root stock. Indeed, ungrafted, true vinifera varieties are pretty rare anywhere in this day and age. The area’s extended growing seasons combined with naturally reduced yields from the old vines deliver the potential for a wine of enhanced aroma and flavor. I’m looking forward to big fruit with enough tannic backbone to stand up to the rarest of beef.
Versado Estate Old Vine Malbec 2010 $24.95 -223 cases – Expectations? Deep ruby , some oak on the nose; lively acidity, dry, savoury, black olive, tarry blackberry flavours with a somewhat herbal finish.
Versado Estate Malbec Reserva 2009: $59.95 - Bigger and fuller than the regular cuvee, I expect something along the lines of one of Trapiche’s special ‘best managed vineyard’ releases. Those ones are often brilliant and under $40 so I’ll stick with them. The Versado Reserva, perhaps suffering from the Tawse effect, is priced way over my own self imposed $50 ceiling coming in at almost $60.
Continuing on the conversation piece theme, fans of say D’Arenberg’s Laughing Magpie might want to try the Lion’s Tooth of the McLaren Vale at $19.95. Unlike the Syrah Viognier blend made famous in the Cote Rotie, this wine is comprised of the odd combination of Shiraz and Riesling. Could be interesting, or not.
Last of the interesting wines is one called the Stray Mongrel from Hentley farms. This is a GSZ blend. Scratching your head? I was too! Zinfandel has been added to the traditional Southern Rhone blend of Grenache and Syrah. It’s an ISD, so 4 cases of 12 in the entire province. You’ll be very lucky to see a bottle, never mind be able to buy one! On with the real picks!
Lander Jenkins Spirit Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $18.95 - Might be worth a flyer on one and if you really like it, go for more.