Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Canadian Cedar

Can Canadian wines age? Very good question, there is little track record here. Several years ago we visited the Cedar Creek Winery in the Okanagan Valley of BC and were impressed with their Platinum Reserve series of wines. I brought several bottles back with me and thought it was time to check their development. The 2002 Merlot has a nice opaque purple colour. It is initially closed but after a 2 hour decant, plums mixed with cranberries come out. On the palate, in this stage of its development, I could mistake this wine for a Bordeaux (? is this a compliment - depends on your point of view). Well balanced, spritely and crunchy, beets and cranberries with a tart apple acidity thing going on. Overall more on the green side than fruity. So how's it ageing? It's lost its initial fruit driven mellow hedonistic side that was evident 3 years ago. But it's showing enough that it's worth waiting to see what happens in another few years. The verdict is still in the air... For value, this is a tough sell at $40.
Right. Now for a look at a marketing phenomenom. The best selling red wine in Ontario and a best seller in several other provinces is an Argentine wine simply known as "Fuzion". It costs about 8 bucks and when I last tried it a few years ago was actually quite drinkable. It looks like it was so successful that they decided to bottle a "premium" version for 3 bucks more. I thought I would compare this nicely packaged wine to a classic Argentine mid-priced wine to see how it stacked up. Well it took all of one second to realize this was a mismatch. The Fuzion, Alta, Malbec-Tempranillo, Reserva, 2008 is a dud. See-through wine in the glass. It smells like dubble bubble. One taste and I quickly spat it out. Cheap candy and gum. Totally fake wine. How do they get away with this? How dare they put "alta" (translation: "high") and "reserva" on the label? Who buys it? I returned it and got my money back. They can market this crap to someone else. Shame on you, famiglia Zuccardi.
OK, how's the other wine? Pretty good it turns out. The Bianchi, Malbec, 2007 is from San Rafael, about 200km south of Mendoza city. Dense purple colour, raw beef nose. A rustic full bodied wine - the tannins rough up the mouth a little bit. Pomegranate fruit. I have no problem drinking this or paying $17 for it.



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