Not all wines are created equal, and thank Grapes for that.
By now you might be thinking, “Hey – this gal seems to only write about wines that she really, really likes. Either she’s a real lush, or this thing is rigged.” Trust me, dear reader – this thing ain’t rigged. I just end up drinking what I like, and often. Life’s too short to drink what you don’t like.
That being said, I have to push myself outside of my comfort zone and try stuff that’s not always on my radar. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed and astoundingly happy, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised – but other times if it’s down to hit or miss, it can be a miss for me.
I don’t have a perfect palate, tons of schooling in wine or an extensive cellar. I do, however, have some generous friends and am often invited to drink along with them. Score. That means things can again be either hit or miss. Isn’t that the beauty of wine? And even with the miss-es, often we can just let time take over and try again in a year or two. Nice. I don’t know many other things that forgiving.
A couple of my explorations lately have been in the hit category, and some in the miss. But hey – my palate isn’t your palate, and our palates aren’t that of the gal-next-door. So I challenge you to taste-test for yourself, and don’t just take my word for it – hit or miss.
Miss: Camelot Vineyards 2007 Syrah. (disclaimer: I’m tough on Syrah, as it’s often not to my taste) It could be that the wine was in what winemakers can call an “awkward” stage in development, where it was bright and fruity with strong tannin at bottling but isn’t yet the smooth customer that some wines can evolve to. Or it could be that this wasn’t a particularly stellar vintage for the winery. Whatever the case, this one didn’t fit my molecules the way I’d like. The colour was a bit light, more like a pinot noir. And the taste was all over the place – a bit of fruit, then jabs of smoked meats roughly interrupting. The 2008 is sold out, but with 2009 on the way I’d be interested in giving another vintage a go.
Hit: Burrowing Owl 2007 Chardonnay. (disclaimer: I’m an easy one for mellow oak on chard) The bottle has heft, and I like that – even if the carbon emissions involved with such a weighty chunk of glass might not. Yes, I was surprised by the synthetic cork – and I’m a Stelvin fan (screw-cap; don’t knock it until you’ve tried it on a good wine). Once I got beyond the cork shock and poured a glass, that nutty, light oak-y flavour took over. It’s not strong, this one, so you un-oaked chardy fans should try it. Since it’s not big oak I’m not as partial to it – but it was delightful.
Miss: Laughing Stock 2009 Blind Trust. (disclaimer: I love Laughing Stock wines and have a Portfolio sleeping in the cellar so this is very, very odd) Yeah, you got me on this one. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the wine, but that it was fairly uneventful for something with as much presence as Laughing Stock usually has. Not delicate, not fruity, not sweet or dry – it was… how do the kids say it… meh. I’d expect this in a glass of ‘wedding wine’; wine served at a wedding so as not to offend anyone but also not to make a strong statement. Maybe it was an off bottle, maybe it was at that awkward stage – or maybe it just isn’t for me. I’d like to try another bottle of the 2009, and would love to taste the next vintage. Anything else would just be silly.
I think the lesson here isn’t in what I think of these wines, but in what we’re willing to try and try again – without judgement, without giving up. Because wine is so fluid, and I mean more than just the liquid; it changes, all the time. So it’s unfair of anyone to judge a winery based on one bottle of one vintage of one varietal.
My hat’s off to each of our BC winemakers as they struggle with such an inexact science. After all, it’s art, too. Not every A.Y. Jackson is a beautiful piece of art.Â For now, I’ll stick to my glass of Burrowing Owl chardonnay and think of summer patios – a perfect way to un*wine*d, especially after first day of winter coat wearing.