BBQ in the Summer Wine Tasting – August 21, 2015

Eric Southward
August 21, 2015

Of course we scheduled a BBQ wine tasting in August, and it snowed… of course! It’s Alberta!!  So there we were, a group of patio-loving wine-drinkers all cozied-up on a chilly August evening, drinking some great wines designed to handle much warmer temperatures.  But we made the best of it, and the evening was delightful.  The BBQ was supplied by the fine people at Holy Smoke, and the wines all performed exceptionally.

Wines were chosen for characteristics that lend themselves for being great BBQ vinos.  They needed to be refreshing, intense, versatile and great value.  My favourite wines were the night’s first two – the Cava and the Chilean Pedro Ximenez.  But, as for the group, I got outvoted.  The overwhelming favourite of the night was the Carlisle Zinfandel Saitone Ranch Vineyard.  It really is a great match with saucy meat coming off a grill.  The Coca I Fito “Aloja Negre” and the Poggio Al Sole Rosato tied for second place, while the Best’s Great Western Chardonnay garnered the 3rd most votes of the night.  All in all, it was a great way to spend a chilly August evening, and for those who attended, thank you.  You were a pleasure.  Below are some tasting notes for the seven wines tried during the tasting.  Cheers.

NV CANALS NADAL Cava Brut Nature Reserva
(Penedes, Spain) – $27
“The 2007 Canals Nadal Brut Nature Reserva is produced with zero dosage. It sports an expressive nose of minerals, almonds, and apple leading to a dry, focused, moderately intense wine with good balance and medium length.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, May 2011

2014 MAYU Pedro Ximenez
(Elqui Valley, Chile) – $16
“The Elqui Valley is the northernmost appellation in Chile. Giorgio Fressati is a wine consultant in Italy and has family in Elqui who are grape producers. They are related to Falernia, the owner’s father’s winery. They have two calcareous slopes where they grow Pedro Ximenez grapes at 2,500 meters altitude on the magnetic center of the earth. The Elqui Valley is one place to keep in mind. These wines offer mindboggling quality and character at unbelievable prices.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, June 2014

2012 BEST’S Chardonnay “Great Western”
(Great Western, Australia) – $30
“Founded in 1866, Best’s is one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries with some of the oldest vines in the country. The “Nursery Block”–a 22-hectare vineyard adjacent to the winery and cellar door–was planted by Henry Best in 1866 and many of the original vines are still in production today. Within the collection, believed to be the most extensive pre-phylloxera plantings in Australia and possibly the world, there are over 39 separate varietals planted, eight of which remain unknown and un-named to this day. In 1920, Frederick Thomson purchased Best’s from the Best family and it has been run diligently by the Thomson family since, with fourth-generation winemaker Viv–one of Australia’s great living wine treasures–still overseeing production while fifth-generation Ben became the managing director and vineyard manager in 2008. The Thomson Family Shiraz, one of Australia’s most extraordinary single-vineyard Shiraz wines, is produced from 15 rows of the original 1868 Shiraz vines, planted by founder Henry Best, and once referred to as ‘Hermitage’ in Henry’s daily journal.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, February 2015

2014 POGGIO AL SOLE Toscana Rosato “Primavera”
(Tuscany, Italy) – $22
Pale, dry and quenching.  This Tuscan rosato is a stunner for only $22, and performs equally well as a top-notch patio-crusher, or as a pairing for grilled veg, grilled fish and roasted chicken.

2013 ATA RANGI Pinot Noir “Crimson”
(Martinborough, New Zealand) – $35
“A winery that really needs no introduction for NZ Pinot lovers, there’s not much for me to add about the long-serving, dedicated team behind Ata Rangi – they just go from strength to strength. The Pinots have always been great, and yet even in a world where the Pinot benchmark gets higher every year, Ata Rangi is better than ever. (Almost equally impressive though are Petrie and Craighall Chardonnays, clearly getting a lot of love in the cellar from highly skilled winemaker Helen Masters.)” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, April 2013.

2012 COCA I FITO Montsant “Aloja Negre”
(Montsant, Spain) – $22
“The 2012 Aloja Negre is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Cariñena, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah aged for three months in French and American oak barrels… with aromas of spicy cherries and some Mediterranean herbs.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, June 2015.

2012 CARLISLE Zinfandel Saitone Ranch Vineyard
(Russian River Valley, USA) – $60
“The 2012 Zinfandel Saitone Ranch is composed of 97% Zinfandel and 3% mixed blacks. A powerhouse at 15.7% alcohol, it is one of the few Zinfandels that, while outstanding, is slightly more monolithic than its siblings. From a vineyard planted in 1895, it spent time in 25% new French oak. The wine’s deep ruby/purple color is followed by muted, but pleasant aromas of dusty, loamy soil interwoven with red and black fruits. This full-bodied Zin does not display the singularity of some of its siblings, but it should provide plenty of pleasure over the next 6-9 years.” – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, December 2014.

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