A winemaker friend of mine told me recently:
"Sending my wine to competition is roughly equivalent to the stress I might have faced, had I sent my children to beauty pageants."
A Little Dramatic I thought, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Flash-forward a few weeks and I'm scribbling away at my notes for the new release of Perseus Winery, his words coming back to haunt me. I considered the wineries (relatively) new owner Rob Ingram and what stresses and challenges he must be facing in his day-to-day business as he sends forth his enological minions to all parts of Canada.
One of the biggest stresses must be that he has worked through three consulting winemakers in as many years, trying to find the right fit. Having settled his focus now with JM Bouchard, who is best known to British Columbians for his work at Road 13 just down the street, I can only believe that a greater clarity will come quickly to the wines.
A native of Quebec, which is perhaps better known these days for the decadent "iced-cider" then it is for wine production, Jean Martin (or JM as he prefers) never planned on becoming a winemaker. But that being said, I've met with those who hail from a multi-generation wine-making family and smile in recognition as I hear JM saying "Its all about the dirt!"
You read it in my reviews time and time again, how the top-level professionals in the wine industry have moved in-line with the idea that 90% of making a wine is growing great grapes. We forget, sometimes, how contrary that is to what was wide-spread practice in the industry only a short generation ago (and in some cases, much-much more recent then that!)... there was a time when making wine was more chemistry then artistry, more equation then inspiration and perspiration. We have moved forward, as a collective, by looking back at the "ancestral farming" and even "ancestral wine-making", when less was more and we didn't put into the soil (or the wine) what we didn't want to take out.
And what I took from my glass(es) of Perseus was delightful:
*BENEFITS FROM A 30 MINUTE DECANT OR 1 RUN THROUGH THE AERATOR
- displaying a smokey/flinty mineral-driven nose, this wine has zippy (full) lemon-peel acids that will work wonders with roast chicken! Packing a strong initial flavor-punch of the same mineral tones, I think it safe to say that the winemaker enjoys his white-Burgundy very much. If you want to pair food off the minerality, then oysters/clams/mussels are a natural! Oysters Rockefeller anyone???
*NO NEED TO DECANT/AERATE
- This varietal is to wine what a sundress is to women: highly complimentary. And few places in the world are producing so many different interpretations of Gewurztraminer as is British Columbia; this being a personal favorite! The bouquet is a kaleidoscope of lush tropical flowers, peach/apricot compote and yet delicate mineral-tones underneath. The palate is awash in bright (full) grapefruit acids that are going to be perfect with my next seafood Thai dish and the relatively low alcohol means that I can have that food as spicy as I want. Yum~!
*BENEFITS FROM 1 HOUR DECANT OR 1 RUN THROUGH AN AERATOR
- Dark ruby core and bright cherry rim, this wine is a very cool-climate example of Merlot. The aromas are full of bright red cranberry/raspberry/currant tones with a hint of warm/spicy musk/earth underneath. The palate is full of those same, ultra-cool, ultra-bright red berry flavors with the slight earthy background and huge chunky tannin just waiting for big, rich winter foods to balance it.
*MINIMAL DECANTING/AERATION NEEDED
- Stunning. From the moment I poured it in the glass, this wine flooded my room with heady aromas of warm tropical flowers, red and black berries, precise graphite-like minerality, subtle oak and more... the sophistication of the bouquet was easily matched by the concentration and balance of the palate which exuded many of the same characteristics and in a refreshingly unique manner. This is not classical Syrah, nor is it classic Argentinian Malbec, but it is a delightful mix of both those worlds. I want no food with it, only my fireplace and a great cigar. But, if I needed to eat, then certainly I would use beef as the Argentinians do and delight my friends with how brilliantly it pairs with any steak. Bon appetit~!
2010 Select lots Cabernet-Sauvignon
*NEEDS 1 HOUR+ DECANT OR 2 RUNS THROUGH AN AERATOR
- of note: my preference for this wine would be to cellar minimum 2 years to allow it to really come into it's own
- a deep, dark and inky wine, the aromas are full of traditional red and black currant, leather and graphite notes. Medium+ acids and full/chewy/meaty tannin make me want to use this as a food-wine... the palate is very similar to the nose and enjoys a medium or average length finish. Unquestionably a brilliant choice for your Winter dishes of: roast beef, pot roast, prime rib etc. Want a different pairing? Try this with an ultra-rich dark chocolate dessert and be amazed~!
Bordeaux-styled blend of: 56% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec
*BENEFITS FROM 1 HOUR DECANT OR 1 RUN THROUGH AN AERATOR
- so dark it seems more black then purple... bruised one might say. Medium concentration aromas that start with the freshness of red raspberries/currants and develop into some blueberry/blackberry tones, warm savory herbs and earth with more then a hint of vanilla. Crisp med+ red currant acids and chewy full tannin, an approachable alcohol (14.9% ABV) to be wary of - truly a wine made for big meals. Very good balance and good structure with medium- length... this wine won't disappoint with your hearty Winter dishes, or for the person who just can't help but fire-up their barbeque for just - one - more - steak!
Perseus is a young winery even by BC standards, which means that for most of the world it's barely out of the womb. But. But with talented, passionate individuals like Jean-Martin Bouchard to watch over her, and with the determination of an owner like Rob Ingram (who managed to secure said talent!), I have no doubts that the winery and the wines will continue to grow and evolve. And any winery that evolves from making their own utterly unique blends right out-of-the-gate will undoubtedly grow into something worth watching.
The proof is in the glass!
As always, I welcome your thoughts here or on Twitter @AStudentofWine
CINCIN~!!! SLAINTE~!!! CHEERS~!!!