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Cuvaison, Cab Franc, Cornas, Chinon in Vancouver


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Notes from my monthly blind tasting lunch in Vancouver.

2003 Carles Hours Cuvee Marie Jurancon – here is an oddball – a white from the slopes of the Pyrenees with 14% alcohol and about 6% RS., made from Gros Manseng. The nose was more like a white Rhone than anything else, and there was lots of flavour in the middle. I think the overall Impression would have been better with lower RS.

1998 Ch. Couhins-Lurton (Graves) – although made from sauvignon blanc, this wine lacked the usual clues in the nose – all we could get out of it were wet rocks. Clean refreshing and ending a bit lemony, it was a tough one to guess. Steve Rogstad, the winemaker from Cuvaison, said that it had evident tannins, which I think was correct, although not the first thing you look for in white wines.

We had these wines with a shrimp and crab item stuffed into a melon zucchini.

2002 Christian Moreau Chablis Prem. Cru ‘Les Clos’ – clean floral nose, very elegant, with good length.

2002 Cuvaison Pinot Noir Estate – Steve told us that this grape was probably his favourite (some people pick difficult favourites!) A very slight funkiness overlaid the excellent fruit in the nose, but no one would mistake this for a Burgundy. Warm in the mouth (14.5%) and fairly full bodied, with a persistent finish. Good.

We moved to rolled guinea fowl breast stuffed with foie gras in a Madeira pear sauce.

1989 Raffault Chinon ‘Les Picasses’ – this cab franc from the Loire has to be about the most full bodied example I recall tasting! The colour betrayed it’s age, and the nose fit a mature Bordeaux exactly, so I (and probably everyone else) were thinking this had to be a decent Bordeaux, maybe a 1985. There was even some remaining tannin. Not your usual somewhat green cab franc! Well done, Jenise, you fooled us!

1976 Mayacamas Cabernet (California designation) – darker than the previous wine (which had been no lightweight) but you knew the minute you smelled it that we were dealing with a mature cabernet. Touch of vinyl in the nose, and losing fruit a bit, but good length and still quite a bit of tannin. This wine must have been undrinkable in it’s early years! Probably better (in terms of fruit) a few years ago. Interestingly the 1974 I had recently showed the same darned vinyl note in the nose, although it did go away, and it had more fruit but the same big tannins – it may be ready some day……

1986 Cuvaison Cabernet – I decided to bring this in honour of Steve’s presence, even though it predates his involvement with the winery by a considerable margin. As expected, a mellow mature California cabernet, that stood out because of the relatively high acidity, which Steve indicated would likely be from mountain fruit. Still holding up well.

We were into the cheeses by this time.

1996 Jean Leon Cabernet – sensual coconut nose (Steve told us what chemical accounts for this aroma, but my note seems to have been engulfed in a wine stain). Dark, tannic and with lots of acidity, this wine needs another 5 years to settle down. Great Penedes wine!

1999 Jean Luc Colombo Cornas ‘Les Myjeans’ – this was a sub-par bottle ( I know this wine fairly well). Ripe nose with some band aid (actual chemical source similarly unreadable in my note) medium to full bodied but lacking clarity of flavour definition.

1995 Isole e Olena Cepparello – warm nose with black cherry fruit and lots of acidity in the wine. Drinks as well as it ever will right now. Decent.

2002 Matua Ararimu – a blend of cabernet and merlot (they sometimes also add a bit of syrah) this wine was an absolutely great stumper – no one expects the Spanish Inquisition…er… I meant expects a red wine like this from New Zealand. Dark, with lavish sweet fruit – mostly lush blackberries, a forward big wine drinking well now.

2003 St. Hallets GST – the clue given to us was that it cost $X and that included ‘GST’. A non-joke for Americans, but Canadians and Brits will understand goods and services tax, and by this time in the meal we didn’t need a REALLY funny joke to set us off. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Touriga. In contrast to the previous wine, the abundant fruit in the nose was decidedly blueberry rather than blackberry, and the oak was uncharacteristically restrained, or perhaps simply subdued by the fruit on palate. Interesting curiosity – grab a bottle if you see it.

T. Vache & Co.Three Friends Port – a strange wine in a truly odd shaped bottle, brought by Jenise from another prior event. Not much info on this one – a Californian Port made of…?? Nose was a ringer for Madeira, and it was raisiny in the mouth, but medium dry and quite interesting.

I have been asked why I don’t set themes for these lunches. This is a good example – a Jurancon white, two older Cal-Cabs, a Bordeaux ringer from the Loire, a Cal-Cab ringer from Penedes, and the Matua. If that doesn’t keep you on your analytical toes trying to figure out what the heck they are, nothing will. We hadn’t a hope in heck on that ‘Port’, of course!

I am going to append my note on last evening’s dinner wine as it doesn’t seem worth a separate ‘edition’

1994 Franus Zinfandel Brandlin Ranch – wax, warm earth and pepper in the nose, full bodied and a bit warm on palate. Still tasty.

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