Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Wine Tasting - 2013

More light!  I need more light! The solstice is here and longer days are worth celebrating.

What a great afternoon. My book-buddies put such thought into their choices and pairings. Tasting the old world right next to the new, it did seem to confirm that new world wines are 'bigger,' fuller bodied, sweeter, and higher in alcohol content. Old world seemed subtler, and more 'food friendly,' (at least to me).

People have promised to share their recipes, so there will be more on the food pairings in a future post. For now, just the wines, recorded for future reference:
Cabernet Sauvignon
New World: J. Lohr, Californian, 2011
We used this balanced wine to experience how the tastes of sweet, salty and sour on the palate actually changed the way we experienced the taste of the wine. Some people were adamant that wine could change the flavour of food.

A bit of salt, a sip of wine, and the wine tastes more flavour-full. A bite of apple, a taste of wine, and the wine tastes somewhat bitter. A lick of lemon, and the wine somehow tastes ‘bigger.’ What happens when you squirt some of the lemon on the apple and sprinkle with a bit of salt? Balanced food meets balanced wine. A whole different experience.
Old World: Tokaji Aszu, Hungary, 2003
New World:  Reisling Ice Wine, Ontario,
Often fortified wines end the meal with dessert. Why not mix things up and serve them as an aperitif? This was a great start to the old world/new world theme. Both very different styles of wine and very different tastes.

Both wines are made from grapes sweetened naturally on the vine, Tokai’s fruit, touched by botrytis or ‘Noble Rot’ vs. the ice wine flavours that concentrate when frozen. Once nature works her magic, the grapes are harvested individually so the winemakers can begin their alchemy.

Old World: Bollig-Lehnert,  Mosel, Germany, 2011
New World: Cave Spring. Ontario, 2011
 Similar grapes, grown in similar conditions, with vineyards situated near rivers, grown in clay soils and very cold climates.

Spatlese means ‘late harvest’ in German, so this old world vintage was a nice segway from the previous course. Also a wonderful selection, with the Wine Spectator giving it a mark of 93 and the promise it would be good until 2023. The New World chosen was one of Ontario’s own, from Cave Spring. Refreshing, citrus-y taste.

Old World: Christian Moueix, Bordeaux, 2009
New World: Beringer, California, 2011
The French Bordeaux was offered as something tasty, with an accessible price point, although the Beringer Founders Estate Merlot was also nicely priced. Both bottles could be had for less than $20.

There was definitely a difference between the two. Some admitted a prejudice for New World merlot over Old before the bottles were even poured, saying they preferred the fruitier and bolder flavours. After comparison, it was agreed there was a strong distinction between the two but the ‘favourite’ was not unanimous.

Pinot Noir
Old World: Albert Bichot, Bourgogne, 2011
New World: Rodney Strong, California, 2011
 This course had a French vs California theme going once again. Old or new, 2011 seemed to be a very tasty year, indeed.

It's not hard to spend a lot of money on an old world Burgundy and much more challenging to find a well-priced 'picnic' wine. The Grand Cru varietals can command hundreds of dollars. This is definitely a bargain and something I will put on my own ‘essentials’ list.

Here there was a very pronounced difference, with the New World much spicier, producing a longer lasting finish.
Old World: Domaine Mucyn, Saint-Joseph, 2010
New World: Peter Lehmann, Portrait, Australia 2011
New World: Killerman's Run, Kilikanoon, Australia, 2011
France vs. Australia in the syrah/shiraz pairings.

Saint-Joseph is in Rhone and Decanter gave this varietal a mark of 90. Absolutely delicious!

Then we compared two Australian shiraz from the same year, but different parts of the country. I expected to find more similarity between the two, all things considered, but there were variations in colour, aroma, taste and finish. Definitely brought home that different styles of wine-making yield entirely different results.

Old World:  Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut Reserve, Champagne
Tiny, abundant bubbles that kept on bubbling… the mark of a good champagne.

An absolutely perfect way to end the afternoon tasting.

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