One of the perks of being a wine writer is an invitation to a portfolio tasting from a wine agent. The agency can bring out winery principals in some cases, who you can have a chat to about their wines. They also pour wines that are available at regular retail, specialty wine shops, and special orders. Having access to these wines in one place with sufficient time to go through most, if not all the wines being poured, gives you a really good idea of what the agency is about, and wines that you can recommend to the public for everyday and special occasion drinking.
Below are my selected gems from the Vintage West portfolio tasting recently held in downtown Vancouver. There were a few winery principals from BC as well as California and Australia. When I look through the wines that I’ve listed, and those that are not, I do notice that Vintage West does carry a wide selection of New World wines that are top quality, as well as a lesser number, but also very good Old World wines. I thought I’d divide up my tasting notes into Southern Hemisphere, North America, and Europe to help you navigate the wines. I’ve also ordered within each category with sparkling and white wines first, followed by red wines. Enjoy!
Angove Family Winemakers Family Crest Chardonnay 2018, Australia ($28.99) – From a single vineyard, these grapes are fermented in French oak using indigenous yeast. The wine has a light butterscotch and tropical fruit nose. Medium body, dry, with lower acidity and a smooth mouthfeel. Light intensity flavours of tropical fruit and butterscotch, along with a mineral component. Nice and elegant.
Soumah Chardonnay 2016, Australia ($31.99) – Light bright lemon colour. Toasty tropical fruit nose. Medium plus body, round and smooth mouthfeel. Medium acidity. Lots of tropical fruit flavour along with oak and cinnamon later on the palate.
BenMarco Expresivo 2016, Argentina ($47.99) – Opaque ruby in colour. Light intensity nose showing ripe purple fruit aromas. Medium body, dry, with firmer tannins. Purple fruit, nutmeg and allspice flavours, along with some minerality. Spicy.
Salentein Numina Cabernet Franc 2013, Argentina ($35.99) – Medium translucent garnet in the glass. Ripe, raisiny plum nose with more on the palate. Also flavours of juicy, ripe red and black fruits, and some spiciness. Medium fine tannins; not too strong.
Vina Koyle Royale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Chile ($29.99) – Medium translucent garnet in colour. A light ripe black fruit nose. Fuller bodied, dry with ripe, juicy black fruit flavours. Medium tannins.
Vina Koyle Royale Carmenere 2015, Chile ($29.99) – Chile’s signature red grape. This wine was almost opaque ruby in the glass. Ripe dark fruit with a hint of capsicum and sweet spice on the nose. Medium body, dry with minerality and pepperiness on the palate. Flavours of juicy purple and black fruits, and dark chocolate. Finer tannins. Quality. –
John Duval Entity Shiraz 2015, Australia ($62.99) – John Duval was a winemaker at Penfolds producing Grange and their other wines. He has his own winery and this wine is excellent. It is almost opaque garnet in colour. Sweet spices, plums and dark fruit aromas. Medium plus body. Floral, red and black fruit, and black cherry flavours. Some sweet spices as well. Long length with medium plus tannins. The flavours in this wine are very deep and intense. Quality. –
John Duval Pexus SGM 2013, Australia ($57.99) – Medium plus translucent garnet in the glass. Light red fruit nose. Dry, medium plus body. Juicy red fruit flavours along with some sweet spices and oak.
Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Fitz Brut 2015, BC ($32.99) – Made with primarily Chardonnay, and lesser amounts of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. 24 months in the bottle on average before disgorgement. This wine has a watery lemon colour. Light, crisp apple nose. Dry, medium bodied with lots of creamy bubbles. Crisp apple flavours. Tasty.
Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs NV, BC ($42.50) – 100% Chardonnay for this sparkler. It spends 36 months on the lees before disgorgement. It has a nice ripe stone fruit nose with more on the palate. You also get a crisp apple flavour. Medium body with higher acidity and a small, biting bubble. Apples on the finish. –
Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Sparkling Rose 2014, BC ($42.50) – This rose sparkler is made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Watery wild rose colour. Nice nose with the aroma of crab apples. Medium plus body, dry with small creamy biting bubble. You get some bruised apple flavour later on as well. Nice.
Soter Vineyards Soter Mineral Springs Brut Rose 2011, Oregon ($86.99) – This sparkling wine is made of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. It is a pale strawberry colour and has a light intensity red fruit nose. Dry with medium body and high acidity. Tiny biting bubbles. Strawberries, red fruit and minerality in your mouth. Tasty!
Culmina Family Estate Winery Dilemma 2015, BC ($34.00) – Pale lemon colour. Apples and hazelnuts aromas. Medium body, round, with flavours of sweet spices, roasted apples, and hazelnuts. Mineral. Silky with medium acidity and thicker mouthfeel. –
Chappellet Chenin Blanc 2015, California ($53.99) – I stopped when I saw this wine as it is not common for California. I read online that a mere ~5,100 acres of Chenin Blanc are planted in California. A grape that is so food friendly should be more widely grown here. This wine is a medium bright lemon in colour. Nice waxy lemon and honey on the nose. Medium body, round, with a thicker mouthfeel. Apples, citrus and a hint of oranges on the palate. Dry with medium acidity. Very good!
Ridge Vineyards Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2015, California ($85.99) – Pale lemon with a green tinge. Lots of nutmeg, tropical fruit and vanilla aromas. Medium body, smooth with medium acidity. tropical fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg spice on the palate. A nice harmony between the fruit, spice, and acidity. –
Spottswoode Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2016, California ($52.99) – Bright pale lemon in colour. A nice grapefruit nose with more on the palate. I also picked up some guava flavour as well. Dry with medium acidity and some bitter pith. Some pepperiness on the finish.
Culmina Family Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, BC ($39.00) – Deep translucent garnet in colour. Chocolate, dark fruit and nutmeg on the nose. The wine is dry, medium plus body, spicy, with flavours of capsicum and dark fruits. Medium acidity and tannins.
B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, California ($31.99) – Medium minus garnet colour in the glass. Raisins, spice, and black fruit on the nose; interesting aroma profile. Dry, medium plus body, medium acidity and fine tannins. A variety of flavours covering ripe, sweet black fruit, green peppercorns, nutmeg and black pepper. –
Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, California ($66.99) – Lighter translucent garnet in the glass. Light, ripe blackberry aromas. Full body, dry with medium acidity and finer tannins. Light intensity dark fruit flavours and peppery finish. I only wish the length was a bit longer.
Girard Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2013, California ($44.99) – Medium plus translucent garnet in colour, with a ripe sweet dark plummy nose. Full body, round with medium acidity and fine tannins. Ripe black fruit flavours and peppery. A strong wine!
Blackbird Vineyards Resolute Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, California ($33.99) – An interesting lower entry-level wine from Blackbird Vineyards, which I quite enjoyed. It is medium translucent garnet coloured. Smoky, black fruit, anise sausage nose. Medium minus body, dry with a light mouthfeel. Red fruits and light vanilla touch, along with some minerality. Very tasty. –
Blackbird Vineyards Arise 2014, California ($68.99) – If you are a Beatles music fan, check out the musical notes on the label of this wine. Which song is it from? This wine is a blend that always has the highest percentage from Merlot. This vintage is 38% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc. It is a medium translucent garnet in colour. A ripe black fruit nose. Fuller bodied, with restrained ripe black fruit flavours, and spiciness. Medium tannins and acidity. –
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour 2014, California ($118.99) – On the other hand this blend is primarily from the Cabernet Franc grape. This vintage is 84% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Merlot. Medium translucent garnet. Light red fruit nose. Smooth but there are firm tannins lurking behind the ripe red fruit and sweet spices on the palate. Firm tannins on the finish.
Justin Justification 2013, California ($74.99) – This a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is deep garnet, yet still translucent in the glass. Very ripe blackberries and sweet spices on the nose. Full body, round with medium tannins and acidity. Deep dense ripe black fruit flavours and some pepperiness.
Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, California ($42.99) – Medium translucent garnet. A nice red fruit, sweet spice, and plum nose. Dry with medium plus body; roundish. A mix of red and black fruit flavours, with allspice and pepper too.
Champagne Lallier Rosé NV, France ($65.69) – This rosé wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It is pale orange in colour. Strawberries, oak and lees on the nose. Medium body with a light acidic prickle and creamy bubbles. Lees and red fruits with salty minerality and nutty finish. –
Boutinot Wines La Cote Sauvage, Carianne Cotes du Rhone Villages 2015, France ($29.99) – A GSM blend. It is medium translucent garnet. A light ripe black fruit and oak nose. Light body, dry with fine tannins. Flavours of sweet ripe red fruit with black fruit behind. Sweet spices as well.
Boutinot Wines Les Six, Carianne Cotes du Rhone Villages 2014, France ($30.99) – This wine is medium translucent garnet in colour. Ripe blackberries, raspberries and plums on the nose. Medium body with softer acidity and tannins. Juicy black fruit and black cherry flavours. Soft finish. So tasty.
Domaine Taupenot-Merme Saint Romain 2015, France ($46.99) – Light translucent garnet. Light intensity aromas of red cherries, tea leaves and nutmeg. Dry with a lighter body, medium acidity and medium plus tannins. Mineral, red fruit, nutmeg and oak on the palate. Good quality. –
Cantina di Negrar Le Preare Amarone Classico DOC 2014, Italy ($34.99) – Deeper garnet in colour but still translucent in the glass. Light intensity ripe red fruit and sweet spice aromas. Medium plus body, dry with medium acidity. Red cherries, sweet spice and oak to start with floral and red fruits later. Grippy finish. –
Bodegas Mauro San Roman 2012, Spain ($52.99) – A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Grenache. This wine is a deeper, translucent ruby colour. Old World oak / cedar, sweet spices, and juicy red fruit nose. Nice nose. Off-dry with medium plus body and medium plus drying tannins. Ripe red fruits, raspberries, plums, sweet spices and vanilla flavours. –