“Wine, wit, and beauty still their charms bestow,
Light all the shades of life, and cheer us as we go.”
On Sunday Canadians gestured in solemn contemplation to the fallen, lest we forget and celebrated heroes. We also gave the thumbs up to a local champion. Congratulations to Moray Tawse, Paul Pender and their team for being chosen Canada’s number-one winery for the third straight year in a recent Wine Access magazine poll.
Pender’s vision for Tawse, while wholly modish in tune, remains deeply rooted in an “antediluvian” wisdom with respect to making wine. The same cannot be said for a mess of ethanolic ferment proliferating present day LCBO shelves. Off I go towards yet another personal hermeneutic. This fall I have nosed, tasted, sampled and jotted down notes on more than 1000 wines. More than half have weighed in above 14% alcohol by volume. One in four have pushed the 15% abv envelope and beyond.
Biblical thought says there was a time when “wine” was simply the juice of pressed fruit, non-fermented, void of alcohol, the “pureblood of the grape.” As Ben Franklin noted, before the flood the Antediluvians Were All Very Sober. They may as well have been drinking unadulterated milk.
Then, according to theological theory, along came Noah, vintner number one. The post-deluge patriarch purportedly discovered that if you let natural yeasts run wild they would turn grape juice and sugar into mocker, “strong drink.” Researches say that ancient barm barely peaked at 12% abv.
Thousands of years passed and nothing really changed, save for theories on the Babylonian effect of wine upon a godless and anarchistic populace. Today the real Babylon resides in extreme ripeness hyper-extending to alcohol levels once thought impossible. Cooler heads do sometimes prevail, perhaps not exactly to antediluvian standards, but at least with a degree of sanity. The great Chilean poet wrote, “let the simple man remember, to think of the soil and of his duty, to propagate the canticle of the wine.” Here are four current releases to stem the tide of vinous revelation.
Château Peyros Tannat/Cabernet 2007 (208249, $14.95) shocks as a direct current of dry, dusty and impenetrable “out of the sight” fortress of pitch. Alternatively, Supper’s ready with figs dipped back in black chocolate, roasted chestnut, truffle and the mind blow of seven trumpets getting “right down inside your soul.” Yowza and at a respectable 13.5%. 88
Vieil Armand Médaille Gewurztraminer 2010 (260158, $17.95) is a classic. Gewurz as gewurz, off-dry, lychee floral, tropical spice, crisp and fresh. No bitter pith. 88
Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (79228, $24.95) shies away from the Burgundian mushroom, Epoisses and bourse, not to mention the Beaune-like price of the sister Black Paw. Yet like a good villages Pinot, the Red Paw weighs in at 13% abv framed by cocoa dust, red earth, density and girth. Swelling and a bit dirty like a proper Martini tsunami. 89
Regali La Lus Albarossa 2008 (291575, $24.95) can be nothing short of an ancient miracle. A Nebbiolo and Barbera hybrid, Albarossa is the Baco Noir or Cinsault of Monferrato. A whisper of vanilla oak imparts elegance into the finest leathery hide. Good on the Banfi conglomerate for this uniquely homogeneous half-blood. 89
Good to go!