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Heitz Notes


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Lovely evening with Kathleen Heitz this week at O’Douls in Vancouver

With heirloom tomatoes on puff pastry with crème fraiche and chive oil:

2004 Grignolino (Napa) – a varietal that you don’t see all that often. The distinguishing characteristic seems to be the colour – although it is a rosé, it is a lurid bright pink that I don’t recall seeing on any other rosé. Quite a bit of spiciness in the nose, well balanced and dry in the mouth with a hint of terminal astringency. Only a few hundred cases made.

With prawn and scallop agnolotti with tarragon and chervil nage (isn’t ‘agnolotti’ plural? What is the singular form, as this was one big mother single agnolott-us?)

2003 Chardonnay (Napa) – green gold colour, with a fair bit of oak and lime hints in the nose, a tad flat in the middle, a bit better at the end and improved with food. Unexceptional, but it is after all the basic entry level chard.

They stuck one of those gustatory monstrosities in here – a sweet grape sorbet – hey wouldn’t want you to go into the serious wines without cloying your palate for you. Why do people that were otherwise doing such an excellent job on the food insist on this sweet interlude? Palate cleanser, not ‘cloyer’ please people (I’ll keep on saying this until they all get it right - an all too common faux pas in even the best restaurants these days).

Next up – duck prosciutto with herb risotto.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa) – bright edges, a hint of cocoa on the nose, medium concentration, a middle of the road well made cab, soft and ready with good acidity and only a bit of tannin. Interesting interplay between the wine and the salty duck and non-salty risotto – fun going back and forth.

With beef tenderloin in black truffle sauce:

1997 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet – there was a very big step here, going from the basic cab to this beast. The wine was quite dark and showed a spirity minty nose with a touch of anise, very concentrated. Not as much of the mintiness as one expects based on other vintages. A sweet entry, some good flavour development in the middle, followed by excellent length. The wine developed a bit more anise in the finish after awhile in the glass. This label carries a commemorative message in honour of Joe Heitz, and a coloured label used only on the 1974, 1985 and 1997.

With lamb noisette:

1999 Trailside Cabernet – this wine put on a great show, coming after the Martha’s. There were more cherry notes in the nose, which seemed also a bit riper than the 97, and then a slight astringency on entry with lots of vanilla both in nose and on palate, perhaps as a result of the use of 100% new oak.. Fairly harmonious now, with a long, very slightly bitter finish. Interesting. I liked this one.

With berry tarts:

Ink Grade Vineyard Port – made from Portuguese Port varietals, although I doubt there would be much risk of mistaking this for a Porto wine. Almost black with purple edges, very sweet nose, not at all hot, and fairly sweet in the mouth with good length. This wine is ready to drink and I doubt it will age the way a vintage Port will, though it resembles that sort of wine more than, say, an LBV or Ruby. Interesting. They also make a ‘Port’ out of Grignolino, which is an interesting idea that I’d love to try some time.

Great event with a gracious host.

While I have often enjoyed older vintages of Martha’s (1974 in particular, but the 1968 is unforgettable as well), I often prefer the Bella Oaks, which I find to be a less full-bore attack on the senses, a bit more European in style. I think that the Trailside is excellent value, vying with the Martha’s at a much lower price. Thanks again to the Vancouver American Wine Society for arranging this event and to Kathleen Heitz for attending, and for bringing up the 1997 Martha’s!

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