May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Isn’t interesting how powerful an idea is. I remember working as a waiter back in the 80’s and 90’s. That was a time when wine consumption was the realm of celebrities and the French it seemed.
It was also a time when wines Schloss Laderheim, Black Tower, Blue Nun, Mateus and the like. As you remember these were are relatively sweet. Yet in the ‘it’ circles and amongst connoisseurs you were only accepted if you drank dry, specifically dry white wine. If I had a dollar for every time someone came into the restaurant and asked for a glass of dry white wine, I would be a rich man today. However when I served technically dry wines they were often met with not so happy faces, yet when what I served was technically off-dry it was loved unconditionally. The lesson I learned is that people love sweet wines, they just don’t like to be told about it.
Fast forward to today and look at the success of wines like Layer Cake (yup the whole line up), Apothic, Colby and the list goes on. Each of these is a juicy red California blend that has a lot of what we call in the industry, residual sugar. But that isn’t the perfect formula, what you need in addition to a load of residual sugar is vanilla flavour. This comes from ageing the wine in either American Oak barrels or ageing the wine with American Oak chips.
The best way I can describe these wines is that they remind me of a pin-up girl that has tons of make-up. Once you remove the make-up and photoshop there isn’t much attractive there.
They aren’t my cup of tea but they sure seem to sell well so what do I know.
August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
This wine has just been released to the market in test tube full amounts… unless you are a high end restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Then.. then you can have as much as you want. Why? that is a discussion for another time.
McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage is the latest in a long line of projects started, elevated and polished by one Harry McWatters. Harry is truly one of the pioneers of the BC wine industry and was among the first to pull off producing commerical wine in BC. He is also a founding member of VQA in Canada and only recently completed some, what I suspect were hard, years at Vincor as part of the deal that saw Vincor purchase Sumac Ridge Winery from Harry. Harry is also responsible for making a wine that was a watershed wine in so many ways to the BC wine industry. Harry grew and vinted Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer which was the wine that brought my wife and I together for a candle light nite (she was my soon to be girlfriend at the time). Regardless of that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz added credibility to the BC Wine industry that was desperate for some commercial wins. Frankly, I believe that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz established a style that became a standard to either emulate or run away from in BC. I can remember a conversation with Sandra Oldfield back in 1995 where she stated that she wanted her Gewurz to stand apart from Harry’s whereas so many wanted to copy.
Another thing you need to know about Harry. Never call a Meritage a Meritah-ge. He will jump down your throat and stomp on your innards. For Harry Meritage is pronounced Merry- tige. He believes in this so much that he either founded or was a very vocal member in an organization of Meritage maker’s (whose real name escapes me right now) that spans across North America.
So the McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage…
Here is the tech shit: Harvested in 2007 from blah blah blah blah vineyards. I have thrown that in there because it seems that every wine is grown in especially selected vineyards and is cared for as if gold from the vineyard to the winery, to the bottle to your table. To use a line I love from old black and white movies – that line is a bromide for the masses. What is really of any importance is why he chose the final blend to be 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and decided to leave in barrel and bottle for as long as he did before he released it. That is what I want to read and hear as each of those elements made up the wine that I tasted.
I first tasted the wine on August 21. I opened it at about 6pm and had a glass with dinner at about 6:30. I have to say that it didn’t wow me at that point. Don’t get me wrong the wine was technically sound and enjoyable but it didn’t have that little bit of Gretzky in it to put it over a lot of others at the same price point. If I had to score it at that time I would have given in a 6.5/$1 on my bang for the buck scale. Nice fruit flavours and aromas of red and black berries, some jammy elements, some good spicy undertones and enough grip to stand up to a bold meal, but not too much to pucker your face in. On the finish there was the tiniest of noises as if I was Horton and I was hearing a Who for the first time. The Who was saying in a shrinking voice “cocoa” “fresh ground coffee”.
Since then it has been sitting on my countertop with a vaccu-pump seal. That is 9 days it should have been well on its way to Balsamic by now but man o man was I surprised. It was still quite voluptuous, full of fruit and not loss of sex at all. Those tiny voices were now big Gregory Peck type tones from To Kill Mocking Bird. The finish was delightful and begging me to get up for another glass. Now, after 9 days I would score it an easy 8.5/$1. Any wine that has that lasting power deserves room in my pocketbook and miserable excuse for a cellar.
Traditional Food Pairing: Beef Tenderloin hot of the grill with the simplest of seasoning. Roast Beef. Stilton Cheese on a Triscuit.
Junk Food Pairing: Jack’s Links Regular Beef Jerky or you can go with the Peppered. If Popcorn is on the agenda make sure that it is Orville’s Extra Butter flavour. Cheez Whiz is pretty decent with this to.
Availability: Pretty limited which is the drawback. You will be able to find it in key restaurants in Vancouver, some private retail in Victoria (in about a week) and throughout the Okanagan.