Thursday, August 2, 2012

Marquis Wine Cellars 2012 Media tasting

Anyone who's been reading my wine articles for awhile knows that I hold Marquis Wine Cellar ( ) in the greatest esteem. To me, they represent the highest echelon of wine-merchants not only in Canada, but in any country I have ever been.

   John Clerides, owner, is a man who makes things happen. John isn't afraid to voice his opinion on wines, on politics or on the local hockey-team. John also isn't afraid to buck the trends and pursue his own path... whereas some merchants here will stock their shelves based off of Robert Parkers scores, John prefers to hire the best staff he can and sends them forth to all corners, sourcing new treasures for admirers of wines, not scores.

   Here is a list of fine wines that John and his brilliantly eloquent staff introduced at their second annual Media tasting at the shop recently:

the whites
n/v Domaine Renaudie, Touraine Sparkling, Loire Valley
Chenin Blanc - Chardonnay  blend
$24, 91 Points
  • nose is dry and dusty with rich minerality and light stonefruit qualities, almost a black pepper finish
  • palate is crisp, full (yellow grapefruit) acids, frothy mousse, palate mimicks the nose with medium+ concentration and good length
  • this wine is a great alternative to Prosecco or Cava for a similar price; well balanced and integrated acids, good structure and concentration this can be enjoyed on its own or with some rich foods. Think fresh BC salmon, butter poached scallops or a pasta with a light cream sauce and fresh peas!

2008 Bruno Colin aligote , Burgundy
$24, 89 Points
  • yes, this is the same Bruno Colin who produces beautiful Premier Cru Montrachet  and truly world-class Pinot-Noir
  •  ultra pale straw color with silver highlights
  •  rich bouquet leaning more towards the dried peach/apricot flavor with a strong savory herbaceous background and light summer floral notes
  •  tight, focused, lean, dry with moderate+ to full acids full of lemon and lime flavors but gets a little mono-syllabic... very good concentration just not alot of layering

2010 Jardin Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, South Africa
$20, 92 Points
  • very funky nose running rampant with a moderate+ concentration of youthful savory herb notes, wild grasses, rocky/granitic minerality. It almost smells like a Languedoc Chardonnay  with it's fresh pear aromas!
  • on the palate a super-inviting moderate+ lemon/lime acid, moderate- body, moderate+ concentration of kumquat marmalade and the savory herbs, still has the strong minerality underneath
  • maybe not everyone's cuppa-tea, but I find this totally over-delivers. Once again, an excellent find by Marquis staff

2010 Domaine Baudry "3 Coteaux", Chenin Blanc, Chinon, Loire Valley
 $25  , 90+ Points
  • 100% Chenin Blanc blended from 3 different vineyard hillsides
  • ultra pale honey color
  • aromas of dry dusty minerality with a warm earth undercurrant, distinct black pepper finish
  • ultra bright, ultra fresh yellow and pink grapefruit acid gives way to straw notes, rich underlying minerality, quince jam. Great concentration!
  • good value, but I believe that part of the $25 price is because a white Chinon  is just so rare in the BC market
  • also important to note that this is an organic winery family-owned and run since the mid-1400's... these wines can age (yes the whites) for up to 50 years!

2006 Bernard Gripa St Joseph,
northern Rhone Valley
$43, 94+ Points

  • Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
  • lush, fully intense and developing bouquet  of layers upon layers of ripe summer flowers, succulent orchardfruit and honeyed stonefruit, gravelly goodness underneath
  • palate is awash in yummyness; full, vibrant, youthful acid fantastically well integrated and developing into a truly world-class wine
  • lots of room left for this wine to develop further; it represents the region superbly and will reward anyone with the patience to keep from stealing down to the cellar on a daily basis! A must-have for those of you who enjoy Chateau Mussar from Lebannon

2004 Josko Gravner Breg Anfora, friuli Italy
$120, 93-94 Points
  • blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Italico and Pinot Grigio
  • important to note the peachy/orange-blossom color
  • aged on the skins for up to 9 months! A unique technique for a white wine, creating unique aromas and flavor profiles
  • on the nose a savory floral quality I'm totally unfamiliar with, moderate concentration but ultra distinct. Now that I've smelled this, I will never confuse it with anything else, nor can I explain it in any other words
  • on the palate moderate+ acid, moderate- (grippy) tannin (yes tannins in a white), medium+ concentration of unique savory herbal-floral notes, excellent balance and structure with superbly long lasting flavor

2010 Domaine Huards Rose, Cheverny, Loire Valley
$23, 89 Points

  • soft floral, strawberry aromas
  • fun and unassuming, this well-put-together wine is full of delightful structure and nuance. This is a deeper, richer, fuller-bodied and drier version then we're used to from most New World wineries, but very much the norm in Old World producer. Good notes of young cherries, raspberries, some roses and cherry blossom

After some truly inspired choices of whites, we were all looking forward to what John might have as a surprise in red wines... I genuinely believe no one could have predicted that someone in BC would be putting Greek wine next to Crozes-Hermitage, but John is a purveyor of goodness in the bottle, and seems indifferent to wine-prejudice. The wines ranged from great to excellent and the Greek wines were as good, if not better, then many I've tried in the States or Europe.

the reds
2010 Tetramythios Agiorgitiko, Greece
$19, 89 Points
  • slightly funky, fresh and inviting herbal/fruity nose
  • moderate acids with a young cherry tinge, moderate chewy tannin structure, this wine has some good structure and is enjoyable right now
  • bright acids make this a natural pairing for lamb; roast, grilled, braised... the fat in lamb always calls out for "high-strung" acid and this wine will play the part perfectly!

2010 Edgebaston Pepper Pot, Stellenbosch, South Africa
$23, 92 Points
  • blend of Syrah/Shiraz, Mourvedre and Tennat
  • on the nose more of a cooked/stewed tomato, almost a cinnamon quality/warm spice
  • acids are well integrated but full intensity (read: mouth-watering), tannin structure comes in much stronger then it feels (because they're already so well integrated as well), great structure, flavor notes similar to the nose
  • this is really a food wine! This has style, this has grace... just looking for the right partner for an evening at home... consider this more an Osso Bucco or Beef Wellington wine as it has the structure to go the distance with your more full-bodied dishes. An excellent example in our marketplace of South African wine

Yahn Chave and his son

2007 Yahn Chave Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhone Valley
$38, 92+ Points
  • 100% Syrah
  • beautiful! rich and integrated cherry, cassis, leather, blackberry, savory earth aromas melding seemlessly
  • bright, fresh and inviting... medium+ acids, medium- tannins, lighter bodied style
  • would pair like a dream with some simple yet well-made charcutterie; think of a basket filled with salami, cured ham, chevre, fresh bread, some pickles and olives. This is the wine that you want in that basket. The only question is: Who are you going to share it with?

2007 Amalie Robert Pinot Noir, Oregon
$42, 92+ Points
  • if you like the lighter, more "classical" Burgundian style of Pinot Noir, then this is for you!
  • fresh, light+ to medium black currant/black berry acid, medium (rich and vigorous) tannin, everything in check, everything well-balanced with a good structure
  • this wine delivers Burgundy quality at half the price. Is it Burgundy? No. No, but it's got that "Burgundy feel" to it and would be a brilliant addition to anyone's cellar. Can age 5 to 7 years gracefully

And just before we left, a little something sweet to send us on our way with a smile.

2004 Domaine le Mont, Bonnezeaux, Loire Valley, 
late-harvest chenin blanc 
$37, 91 points
  • rich perfume of dried stonefruit (apricots), dried hay
  • bright and fresh without huge amounts of residual sugar, rich racy acid, strong concentration of those same apricot marmalade flavors without being flabby or heavy
  • I would consider this more for people who say that they don't like icewine or late-harvest but are looking for an after-dinner treat

So John Clerides knows how to throw a party, and no doubt about it! We had great wine, succulent little morsels of food, and the room was abuzz with lively conversation. It's a relaxing thing, for a wine-writer, to know that I'm going to a function where I won't have to worry if the wines may or may not be corked. I don't have to worry about whether or not someone is trying to push a $12 wine on me for a $40 pricetag because they think they can get away with it.

   When I step into Marquis Wine Cellars, my shoulders relax; I'm in a very happy place. This was where I came before I knew what Chinon was, or before I knew how to understand when I was tasting minerality in a wine, this was my first adult foray into wine... now I'm lucky enough to be able to go in and discuss Sonoma Pinot Noir vs Willamette Valley. I get to go in and search for good back-vintages of moelleux Loire whites (which my wife adores).  In short, Marquis Wine Cellars has become a fixture in my wine-education and remains so to this day.

   True enough, I may not agree with every comment or suggestion from the staff and management, but folks this is wine: I'll gladly debate with John why I love great Sonoma Pinot Noir and he can't say that I'm wrong because it's all personal taste at a certain point! No one will agree with you on everything, especially not something as specific as wine, but we can all agree that this is a great place to buy it from!

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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