Garden Tasting Notes

Notes from a garden blind tasting:

2006 Philipponnat Champagne Le Léon Extra Brut – quite pale colour, excellent acidity, crisp and long. Waxy nose with hints of pear and spice. Good.

2016 Champagne Christophe Baron Champagne Les Alouettes Charly-sur-Marne – prize for longest name of he day. More colour in this bubble, and less acid, so a softer, rounder presentation. Pinot meunier brut nature, with pear notes underlaid by tropical fruit. A very, very good wine. Made by Christopher Baron of Cayuse in Washington State.

2012 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru La Perrière Blanc – runner up for longest name. Medium yellow colour, nose of citrus, hazelnut and some sweeter fruit at the end. Suspect a bit of RS.

2018 Phantom Creek Estates Pinot Gris – first B.C. entry. Ripe and tropical in the nose, with floral notes and a bit of apple crispness at the end. Olivier Humbrecht is consultant on this.

2021 Little Engine Chardonnay – another BC wine with light colour, a sweetness in the nose and some difficulty nailing varietal with any certainty.

2015 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben – almost pipped the Baron bubbly for length of name. Up front lime, wet stone and a hint of wax, medium length, clean finish.

2017 Blue Mountain Pinot Noir Wild Terrain Block 09 – one of the top end small single vineyard** wines from this producer. Mid colour, some spice in the nose with some nice dark cherry/raspberry notes, smooth and long with some spice coming out with time. Excellent.

2015 Thomas Pinot Noir Dundee Hills – this Oregon Pinot was medium garnet with a sweet fruit nose with some black pepper. Sweet long finish.

2009 Domaine Michel Gros Morey St. Denis En la Rue de Vergy – this Burg showed medium to dark colour, dark fruit nose with good body and length. Very tasty.

2004 Fairview Cellars The Bear – made by a real ‘soup Nazi’ type of winery owner/vintner (if he didn’t like the look of you, it was “No wine for you!”). Very dark wine with a nose of big fruit with spicy hints and a long finish with soft tannins. In a good place now (the first bottle from my cellar). It is a Bordeaux blend (Cab. Sauv, Merlot, Cab. Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot).

2010 Gali – an oddball from Gallipoli in Turkey made of merlot and cab franc. Came across as an older wine with an interesting nose of soy sauce and cherries (!?)

1995 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard – dark wine with intense nose of dark fruit and wood, soft tannin, plus the characteristic mint/eucalyptus, and good length. Very nice wine.

2009 Le Vieux Pin Syrah Équinoxe – my second bottle, from a BC winery with great aspirations and purist (and expensive) wine growing and vinification. Really excellent syrah nose with raspberry, roasted meat and a long dry finish. You could believe that you were drinking Hermitage if someone told you that. Seemed younger than it is.

big fan of le vieux pin

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Thanks for the notes, Bill.

Interesting (and nice) to see the Backus showing well. I was thinking that it was around that period that Phelps went to a bigger, less interesting style.

Good to see the Vieux Pin showing well with age!

That was the period when Vieux Pin switched from an emphasis on Pinot to Syrah - the first vintage was 2008 so my bottle was only the second year they had been making that varietal.

They have done very well with it - I buy the regular Syrah (Cuvee Classique) regularly, the Equinoxe quite often and another lighter syrah they do, the Cuvee Violette, by the case each year.

They also do absolutely killer Sauvignon Blanc and a Rose made from Pinot Noir (Vaila) that is among the best in BC (and one of the others that I’d rate up there is their sister winery LaStella down in Osoyoos - Lastellina, a CF, merlot. sangiovese blend).

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PS - I also used to visit Phelps regularly on my annual trek to race vintage cars in California. Visiting Phelps, Ch. St. Jean, Kenwood Montelena and a few others while dragging a race car home on a trailer to Vancouver would be quite an adventure today with the increased traffic!

I still have 1980s vintages of most of those wines including 85 and 86 Insignia.

Actually there’s a typo on vintage, Backus was 1985 (when they were still very interesting!)

After a hike in Capilano gorge, Betsy and I headed over to Bill’s where a fun group was waiting. Lovely garden with a river view. I had only met Jenise and Bob before, but everyone treated us like old friends. People brought a great assortment of food - smoked salmon blinis with caviar (from a salmon Alvin had landed himself), some salumi from Salumi in Seattle (mole, finocchiona, soppresata), fennel and citrus salad, jambon persille terrine, golden beet salad (with pretty purple sage flower garnish), and grilled flank steak salad with (wonderful) marinated mushrooms , chicken liver mousse, cheese and bread. And there was wine

Blind bubbly magnum- citrusy, dry, some thought older, not the most verve but nice flavor profile. Turns out winemaker is the winemaker at Cayuse. 100% Pinot Meunier
2016 Christophe Baron “Alouettes” Champagne Brut Nature B+

Blind bubbly 750 - mine so no guessing for me, Jenise gets Blanc de Noirs right away. Pears, spice, warm bread. Always liked this wine, sad to see my last one go. 2006 Philipponnat “le Leon” Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut B+/A-

Blind white: Oily and floral, first guesses were Rhone varieties, which seemed spot on to me. Big, perfumed, hint of sweetness. Very interesting, though not a style or variety I gravitate towards, I ended up liking. (2018-missed vintage,thanks Bill for noting) Phantom Creek Estates Pinot Gris. B

Another one of mine. Admitting Pinot Blanc/Gouges is a bit of a curveball, so took some time to get around to it. Pear, lemon, and almonds, in a good place. 2012 Gouges La Perriere Nuits St George Blanc B+

Blind white: OK, took a LONG time to get to Chardonnay. Sweet note, red delicious apple with a waxy note, I thought Chenin. 2021 Little Engine Chardonnay B/B-

Blind white- Someone immediately said Riesling, I guessed Nahe, because I thought it could be Emrich-Schonleber Mineral, a trocken I like with similar profile (and 2nd guess was Rheinhessen thinking Keller Limestone). Pink grapefruit, orange blossom, very light petrolly note, nice length and prersistence. 2015 Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr GG B++

First red . Someone immediately got PN, but I was thinking Burg as this had a nice lacy texture. Red fruits, mushroom notes. I would have never gotten BC. 2017 Blue Mountain Wild Terrain Block 9 Pinot Noir. B+/A-

Blind red- another that could be an elegant Burg, but someone got Oregon, and with hints producer. Red cherry, beets, spice and truffle. Very good. 2015 Thomas Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills)A-

Blind Red -OK, so this is Burgundy, albeit from a ripe year. I missed commune with Volnay and Chambolle guesses, but at least got vintage. Red and black cherry, sandalwood, pretty ready to go. 2009 Michel Gros “Rue de Vergy” Morey St Denis. B+/B

Blind red- I was certain this was mature Bordeaux. Cassis, black plum, cigarbox, still a touch of tannin. BC! Really! 2004 Fairview The Bear A-/B+

Blind red- Plummy, kirschy, with a bit of VA. Initial guess was ripe year St Emilion, but not France. I think we went through all of traditional Europe (and I threw in Lebanon) without getting country. 2010 Gali (Turkey) B-

My 1989 Vieux Chateau Certan was corked, a particular indignity after carrying 2500 miles.

My other wine wasn’t. Full, balanced, loaded with mint, someone immediately got old school Cali, Jenise got Phelps, Alvin Backus, Bill 1985. 1985 Phelps Backus Cabernet Sauvignon. A-

Smoky, bacon fat, seemed textbook Northern Rhone, I’m thinking Cornas but it turns out to be BC! My fave BC wine of the day, in very strong competition. 2009 Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah. A-

There was a late addition of 2003 Il Poggione Brunello di Montaclino, which I was surprised by vintage, as it didn’t seem uberripe. Nice wine

Really fun time, with really nice people. I didn’t bring my notebook and was only taking teeny notes on phone. At one point I grabbed my phone to go and talk to people at other end of table, except it was Bill’s phone! Luckily he realized it was missing and called, otherwise it could have ended up in US (well, at least elsewhere in Vancouver). I need to get a more distinctive case.

Thanks to all for making us welcome!

Grade disclaimer: I’m a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C drinkable. Anything below C means I wouldn’t drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.

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