A tasting that really rocked.

Sometimes the day just gets away from you. I got a call to do my brother a favour and so I dressed quickly, splashed some water on my face, put my hair in a pony tail and jumped into the car to give him a hand. I knew I’d have at least an hour to get ready for work and so you can imagine my surprise when the alarm on my phone went off informing me that I had one hour to get to the Trialto geo-sensorial tasting with the inimitable David Scholefield. I don’t know how I over looked it. I’d been looking forward to it since I got the invite, but there you have it. I rushed to the brother’s place letting him know of my mix up. He let me off the hook and thankfully, his wonderful wife gave me a bowl of soup. What could I do? I headed off to the tasting looking, literally as though I dressed in the dark.

Of course, traffic in Edmonton being what it is these days, I found myself in gridlocks again and again and what should have been a fifteen minute drive stretched out into half an hour.

I hate being late for formal tastings. It irks me when I do arrive on time only to have the hosts wait for late-comers. It’s rude. Everyone’s on a schedule and if the start time on the invitation says two, things should start rolling at two. But that’s just me… and I was ten minutes late for the tasting I’d been looking forward to for a couple of weeks.

Luckily, things were just getting started when I burst in (embarrassed) and I got a good ribbing from the assembled crowd.

David Scholefield was leading the tasting and my family has known him since the old days when he was the head buyer for the BCLDB. He’s a great speaker and a real expert when it comes to all things wine. Best of all he’s a wonderful story teller and we were treated to some great stories. On top of it all I was faced with my favorite thing: a paper placemat with black circles on top of which have been placed various glasses of wine in specific order for tasting. (sigh)

The focus of this tasting was terroir. The Dirt. Another one of my favorite things. The first half of the tasting was about the effect different soil profiles have on the taste of the wines grown in them. My notes include what we were learning as we went. We tasted:

Domaine Vincent Delaporte Sancerre 2013 (organic) -demonstrating limestone. I got: Lime vanilla, kraft caramels. Massively juicy. Minerality is a sensation like licking a battery. I could feel this one at the back of my throat. Limestone gives grip and structure. DS decscribes it as perpendicular, shrill. Tastes like laughter. This was as wonderful a Sancerre as I have ever tasted. +748791 $$

Domaine de la Mordoree Cuvee La Reine des Bois Lirac Blanc 2013 (biodynamic) demonstrating clay. I got: Creme brulee, vanilla, tangerine, peony. Round bright attack. Rich, fat, broad plush and mouthfilling. DS calls it the greatest Lirac white in the world. Progressive blending of Viognier, Roussanne,Grenache Blanc and Clairette. +721518 $$

JL Chave Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur AC 2012 (organic) demonstrating granite & schist. I got: dried plum, black dirt and horse shit. (gamey). Juicy, caramelly attack with dry upright tannins. I feel it all over my teeth. A constantly evolving palate, both upright and wide. This family has been making wine in this place since 1340. (!) +238162 $$ ❤

Quinto do Vale do Meao Meandro Douro 2012 (sustainable) demonstrating schist. I got: vanilla mint, snapdragon and clean laundry. Dense dark attack, rich in fruit and earth. Itchy tannins both lush and dirty… wide and wonderful. Field blend of unknown varietals. +736999 $$ ❤

Neal Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Howell Mountain, demonstrating basalt rock & old volcanic soil. I got: deep garnet hue. Cedar and sandalwood, night blooming stocks and celeriac. Giant juicy attack with grippy, stemmy tannins that open to pretty layered floral notes and black dirt. Beautifully balanced. Elegant and fine as well as lush and playful. Very like Feudi Maccari Nero d’Avola in soil profile. +841957 ❤

The second half of the tasting was about place, not grape. So the wines we tasted were wines that really expressed the place that they came from. We tasted:

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling 2012 Alsace France (biodynamic) I got: Fenugreek, petrol (sorry) wet clay. Clean attack of dense bright acidity with savoury notes of thyme leaving an almost chalky feeling on the teeth. You can literally taste this one in your throat. Steep slopes, Reductionist wine. +788596 $$ ❤

Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir 2011 Patagonia Argentina (organic and biodynamic) From a pristine wilderness. I got: Light clear garnet. Cotton candy, roasted marshmallow, fresh figs and those yellow banana marshmallow candies. Super silky, smoky, ephemeral attack. Brightly acidic and lushly fruity. Super clean and compelling. The finish is a roller coaster of awesomeness. I want to drink this with ANything! Cotes du Beaune-esque. +741851 $$ ❤

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2013 Central Otago, New Zealand (biodynamic) – I got: Deep velvet ruby hue. Fresh tires, a bucket of bing cherries,carrot greens and ground almond. Silk velvet attack with stinging acidity. Very clear and concise and very grippy. Taste it in 2023! Dreamy. +712876 $$$ ❤

A.A.Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend 2012 Swartland, South Africa (NW of Paarl & Stellenbosch)(sustainable) – I got: Deep velvety ruby hue. Mint and poo, parsnip. very poopy. Pomegranate and ash. Cotes de Nuit-esque Dense acidic attack with clear notes of cherry playing hide and seek between the teeth. chewy. oh so chewy. Very dirty ❤ From old abandoned vines recovered Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah and Pinotage. Real. Good. Love. +757685 $$ Old school, back to the future wine-maker. Mad genius.

Clos de Fous Cabernet Sauvignon Grillos Cantores 2011 Alto Cachapoal, Chile (organic) – I got: Super velvety ruby hue. Pine trees, cedar, juniper and honey, nectarine, blackberry and sage. Intense, luscious, chewy chewy chewy attack that clings to the back of the throat. CRAzy intensity.<3 ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Juicy and mineral (it’s a theme). From a massively influential winemaker. Another wine from abandoned vines including Cinsault and Carmenere that have been harmonized. It means they’ve been together in the vineyard so long that they flower and ripen at the same time even though they are varietals with generally vastly different schedules for flowering and ripening… wonderfully magical! +760459 $$

…and then it was over. What a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. So much fun and incredibly informative. I wish everyone could have this experience. It makes you realize that wine matters. The people that grow wine and love their land, love the grapes and the wine that comes from them and they share this with us! It’s incredible. These growers are stewards of the land and the rest of the world could learn so much from their examples. It’s magical and inspiring.

So, it was time for work. I walked to my car, retrieved a $75 parking ticket from under the windshield wiper (even though I found out that there was free parking later,:{ ) and headed off to work the bar on a Friday night.

It just goes to show… You don’t have to look good to have a great day.

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