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When: September 24, 2014

Where: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Calgary Alberta

Attended By: Adrian Bryksa

Since 1983, the team at International Cellars have been representing amazing wineries from around the world. When the invite arrived in my inbox for a premium tasting and knowing that houses like JadotVietti and Domino De Pingus would have products open there, I knew that action must be taken. Upon arrival, we were greeted by over 70 different wines from 13 countries and I have chosen a handful that were standouts.

Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blanc Champagne

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We were greeted to this stunning grower Blanc de Blanc from Pierre Peters. Retailing for around $60, it provides an outstanding alternative to the bigger houses standard non-vintage brut offerings. I picked up notes of citrus, ginger and mandarin peel with vivacious acidity and a clean finish. This stuff is very rare and allocations last year were made to Avec Bistro and Wine Ink. Bubble lovers need to make getting a bottle of this a priority.

Louis Jadot 

The wines of negociant Louis Jadot had the biggest presence at the tasting and for good reason.  International Cellars devotes 50 of its wines to its book and has the largest selection from one house. With vintage representation spanning from 2009 to 2012, there were a lot to taste and contrast against. 

2011 Jadot Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle

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2011 has been getting a lot of attention from critics for white Burgundies as one whose wines will reward cellaring but have early accessibility.  I especially enjoyed the $93 Chassagne Montrachet Clos de la Chapelle Monopole whose fleshy, honeyed peach and trademark acacia flowers made for an outstanding drop of chardonnay. With a richness of body coupled to racy acidity, this will be one to watch and is a relative value compared to its grand cru cousins.  Note that the label for this wine is different than other Jadot bottlings as they have a long term contract with Domaine Duc De Magenta who solely owns the vineyard.  

2010 Volnay 1er Cru Clos de La Barre

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Of all the pinot noirs sampled from the house of Jadot, the one that stood out for me was the 2010 Volnay 1er Cru Clos De La Barre. Coming in at around $75, it showed a beautiful purity of red berry fruit, with balanced acid and fresh, elegant tannin.  This wine scored 18.5 out of 20 or 95 points from a 3 person panel from Decanter magazine and I could not agree more with the groups assessment as most of its kin from other communes and cru levels were either shut down or angular. At the time of tasting, there was a small allotment of 1500ml magnums of this vintage and while superb today, this wine will surely sail past 2020.  It will be hard to resist this one.  

2010 Vietti Castiglione Barolo

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My love for the wines of Vietti has not relented and the 2010 vintage will go down as maybe one of the finest ever. Antonio Galoni from Vinous rated this wine at 94 points and after tasting the Castiglione, I feel he was conservative in his score. Nebbiolo can be unyielding in youth with face ripping acid and desert drying tannin, however none of those characteristics were observed with this one. Medium bodied with notes of flowers, spice, black tea and red berries, what sets this apart is balanced acid and elegant tannin. I can’t really find much wrong with this one as it may be my candidate for wine of the year. A true cellar gem for $80. Magnums of this wine are available as well. 

If you liked this report, check out our coverage of Crush Import’s 10 Year anniversary portfolio tasting.

Price: $ 45.00 estimate

Available At: Quails Gate Cellar Door

Whether we like it or not, the seasons are changing and with that comes cooler weather, falling leaves and a need for comfort food.  It was a slow cooked pot of beef stew that drew my inspiration for selecting the 2009 Quails Gate Old Vine Foch Reserve as the wine of the week.  With grapes hand harvested from 46 year old Foch vines and seeing 3 years in new American oak, the Old Vine Foch pays homage to Richard Stewart Jr who planted the vines at a time where commercial fruit trees would have been the better investment. The grape varietal Marechal Foch has a small, but dedicated following with enthusiasts seeking out its wide range of expressiveness. It was through one of these enthusiasts that this bottle came into my possession. The 2009 comes in at 15% ABV and due to its relative rarity, is restricted to sale at the Quails Gate Wine Shop. 

Eyes: Medium bodied with a ruby red core

Nose: Complex and brooding with notes of roasted coffee, herbs, pomegranate, cherry, plum and loam.  There is a leathery, meaty almost animal character showing through which is reminiscent of Rhone Syrah or South African Pinotage.

Palate: Dry with notes of cherry, butchers block with hints of herbs and cedar.  It finishes dark with an acidic pang with an austerity that begs for some animal fat to keep it in line and I would recommend this wine to be enjoyed with nibbles of cheese or a gamey protein like lamb or venison. Its tannins remain powdery and a little green which is interesting but not overwhelmingly enjoyable. Decanting assisted in calming things down and is highly recommended.  

Conclusion: This is a wine that needs time in the glass or in the decanter to settle before judgement can be passed.  The first tastes were less than ideal however with a bit of air, the rough edges softened and it became much more drinkable. Overall, a decent outcome to a wine that straight out of the bottle, could easily be written off. 

86 Points

If you liked this review, check out our coverage of the Spier Signature Series Pinotage