April 8, 2011

Alpha Zeta Ripasso Valpolicella 2008

Discovered at a tasting event at deVine. Usually I find Valpolicella on the thin side, like Pinot Noir but without the character. Maybe I've only ever tasted mediocre Valpolicellas. The one - Alpha Zeta - is very robust, more like a meaty Zinfandel. At first it blew me away: I was thinking 91 points. But as I keep tasting it, the wine doesn't hold up. It's still very good, but usually a fine wine will start tasting better as you get further into the glass. Not this one for some reason.

My initial reaction was that it engaged all of the palate, especially a slight sweetness that balanced the sour acidity nicely. But as I keep going, the sweet just seems to take over. A little pruney, to be honest. I am impressed that it has such a full body and mouthfeel, and I think this would be excellent paired with any good pasta (especially a tomato vodka sauce), veal or chicken.

From the winery website:
This wine is made using a traditional Veronese practice known as "ripasso". Traditonally, the young Valpolicella wine was re-fermented on the skins of the Amarone grapes once they had finished fermenting in March. The new, more expensive approach is to ferment the young wine together with dried grapes in the January following the vintage, giving the wine more body and depth. This blend of modern and traditional winemaking produces a wine with a combination of freshness, structure and depth that is fairly unique among Ripasso wines.
A great value, and something a little different that I wouldn't have otherwise tried.

89 points. $19.99 at deVine

April 1, 2011

Sumac Ridge 2006 Cabernet Franc

To set the scene: we've had an usually long and brutal winter here in Edmonton. Our winters are usually several months long and, yes, cold. But this one was exceptional, with tons of snow, and people have reached their limits. Now, yesterday and today, the temperature has finally climbed a few degrees above zero, the snow is melting with a vengeance, and the sun is out. Winter is over.

All of which reminds me, we are about a month away from our annual Okanagan wine pilgrimage. Each year, for no deliberate reason, we start the wine fest off at Sumac Ridge, probably because it's open early and on the way to our accommodations. One year our friend Paul worked there and he overserved us greatly, but we survived his generosity.

Cab franc is becoming one of my favorite BC varietals; in the past couple of years I've been impressed with cab francs from various wineries in the Okanagan. The Sumac Ridge Black Sage line is their Cadillac grapes from near Osoyoos, and I've never had one that wasn't excellent. And this one is too.

Probably my imagination, but I smell some of the wild sage that grows in the very southern part of the valley - you have to get out of Kelowna to see it. I almost detect a blueberry aroma as well. The bouquet is full and pungent and promising.

The taste is robust and delicious - not the body-slam of a shiraz but much more heft than a pinot noir or a merlot. Sublime and surprising with a little muscle - a Taylor Hall wine. There's a definite acidity to the wine, but it's balanced by some sweet flavours like vanilla and dark fruits. The winery notes plum, cherry and cedar as well. Yup - a dee-licious wine. I won't even suggest a food pairing - drink it by itself.

91 points. $20 from the winery.