A mysterious postcard arrived in the mail inviting me to visit “the Family” and try some wine. The Cosa Nostra maybe? The address took me to a notorious location in downtown Vancouver, The Penthouse Night Club”. Certainly a different location to try wine! A Sicilian looking guy, dressed in 1930s-40s period suit and hat, greeted me at the door, waiting to hear the secret password to let me inside.
Once inside, I was escorted to a room, filled with glasses, jazz music, and 6 mystery bottles of wine; 3 white, and 3 red. Sipping through from white to red, me and my fellow invitees tried to guess the grape varieties and where the wines were made. All we knew was these wines were produced in the New World. Blind wine tastings can always be humbling. No matter how big a mental encyclopedia that you create for different grape varieties based on your previous tastings, there are always subtle variations that can throw you off. A touch of oak for example can make you believe you are tasting a Chardonnay when it is a totally different grape variety. Such was the case for the 3 whites, which the first we thought was an oaked Chardonnay. The 3 whites, we later found out were Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. Hmmm, Rhone varieties. Which New World winery, or country could it be?
Next were the three red wines. Two were blends while the last red was a single variety. We did guess Syrah for the single varietal wine, but the other two were still unclear to us. We later found out the first red was a Syrah Malbec blend, the second a GSM, and the third a Syrah. More mostly Rhone grapes. Could it be South Africa or Australia?
Once done with our tasting, we were brought to meet the Cosa Nostra in person. It was Road 13 Winery, which is located in Oliver, BC! The wines we tasted are from their Rhone focused portfolio. We had a chance to meet the winemaker Jean Martin Bouchard, who went to study wine science in Australia, and work in various wineries, such as Torbreck and Penfolds. He certainly should have a firm grasp on Syrah. He has also travelled and worked in Europe and in Canada to round out his wine making experience.
The Wines We Tasted
- Road 13 Roussanne 2013 ($24)
- Road 13 Marsanne 2014 ($24)
- Road 13 Viognier 2014 ($24)
- Road 13 Syrah Malbec 2013 ($26.99)
- Road 13 GSM 2013 ($35)
- Road 13 Syrah 2012 ($25)
I thought the Roussanne was quite nice. It is 94% of the blend with 6% Viognier. The grapes are fermented in concrete eggs. It had a light fruity nose. Medium bodied, round, with flavours of dried peaches, light spice, honey, butterscotch and toast.
The Syrah Malbec was also a wine that I really enjoyed. It is 83% Syrah, 12% Malbec, 4% Viognier, and 1% Mourvedre. I picked up on the Mourvedre with it’s violets aroma on the nose. Also lots of purple and dark fruit aromas. Very flavourful with juicy purple fruit, ripe plums, black pepper, chocolate and some meatiness. Sweet spice on the finish. Should be a crowd pleaser for your summer bbq.
The Syrah was also very distinct. Really dark fruit and lots of smokiness and coffee aromas. Fuller bodied, with more smokiness, bacon and dark fruit.
Check with the winery to purchase these new wines, and keep your eyes open for their release in BCLDB and private liquor stores in BC.