I attended a trade tasting of Napa Valley CA wines yesterday, and had my eyes opened about the wine industry and related pursuits in Canada. What a mob scene --perhaps not all that surprising considering the event was a room full of wine and cheese. I've been to a lot of trade shows in my time, but this was my first at which the attendees were encouraged to spit in strategically placed buckets. I haven't quite worked up the nerve to do that in public, and as a result I walked out of the event a lot looser than when I walked into it.
Hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners association, the tasting showcased recent releases, some of which (if not all) I assume will be available for purchase in Canadian liquor stores and fine restaurants. My notes show me tasting 20 of approximately 70 bottles in the room, and as might be expected I discovered quite a spectrum from I never want to think about this wine again, to now we're talking.
Quickly then, keep an eye out for the 2005 Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Peju. Both very fragrant, expressive wines that act with great subtlety in the mouth. There was a lot of clumsily sweet white wine in the room. Peju, in my opinion, has produced some superior whites.
Heitz Wine Cellars 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha's Vineyard is a winner, but my favorites overall in the room were the 02 Cab Sauv and the 03 Merlot from Stag's Leap Winery. Both very full, very subtle wines with great staying power and a beautiful balance of spice and fruit.
I was pleased to meet Tony Aspler as he wandered the floor, and I'm grateful to him for pointing me in the direction of one of the finer wines in the room.
Quick note: I have started reading Natalie MacLean's book, Red, White and Drunk All Over, and will report on it fully here on the blog. So far it has many promising elements -- dusty old wine cellars and an honest admission of wine anxiety. Very entertaining.