Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Chapel Hill Experience

Well all you avid readers, the stars are aligned because I got to do a mini-vertical (albeit spread over two weeks!) tasting recently. I have returned from heliski heaven (where we experienced 160,000 feet of real vertical) back to the drudgery of WORK (you all know about that, eh?), but we did manage to polish off about 20 bottles of wine that week - I'll be giving the full report later, when I have time - including a real star, a CHAPEL HILL Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 1998. This wine had been sitting in my (sad excuse for) cellar for 5 years and like all well anticipated wines, I wanted to share it with my buddies for a special occasion. Even my biggest critic, the famous M. Cyr himself, was present to add his two cents worth...
A dense black wine with a tar stained cork emerged from the bottle. A wonderful hedonistic (I actually hate to use that word, since I hear it soooo often from that overrated jackass Robert Parker Jr.) aroma wafted up into our noses - ahhh, some oak to bite into we thought. Turns out the 27 months this wine spent in barrels was not wasted - this baby could stand up to the oaking. A full bodied beauty.
The Verdict: Good to Wow, mixed consensus of 4 tasters.
Value for the money: It cost perhaps 20 bucks 5 years ago, so as I say, buy it by the case (if you can find it!!!).
This brings me to tonights wine - wouldn't you know it (and this is where the stars had to be aligned), the LCBO had the 2001 version of the same wine when I went shopping yesterday. Opening the bottle, same dark stained cork, but the wine was not quite as opaque as the '98. A pleasant but definitely lighter nose. On the palate, a dwarf like version of the '98. Very pleasant, easy drinking, actually suits food better than the earlier vintage.
The verdict: since I live for dense chewy inky sippers, nowhere near the '98: just OK. If I hadn't had the '98 recently, it might have gone up to good...
Value for money: at $18.95, reasonable, but don't think I'd buy another. Lets wait and try the 2002.


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