Trip Reports

 

 YCCC Taste Tests Boxed Red Wines 

Having a glass of wine at the end of a hard day of paddling is such a treat but you can't take bottles of wine in to most provincial parks nor is portaging wine bottles a very wise idea. On the evening of Saturday March 20th a group of YCCC members gathered for the seminar “Thinking outside the glass: Tetra Pak and Plastic Bottle Wine Tasting”. We wanted to determine which Tetra Pak and Plastic Bottle Wines would be the best pick for the upcoming paddling season.

 

We blind tasted 11 red wines from the LCBO and the SAQ.  Our in-house sommelier and gracious host Kevin Gibb gave us a tasting wheel to help us find the words to better describe what we were tasting and he also gave us a sheet of paper with descriptions of the wines. Our goals was to match up what we were tasting with the descriptions and to identify which wines we liked best. 

Here's the List: (Report Follows 

 

 Baldivis Estate

Bright dark purple ruby colour; aromas of plum, herb, red cherry, cassis, vanilla and spice; dry, medium to full bodied, with balanced acidity, moderate tannins, flavours of black fruit, spice and oak.

Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon (best)
Deep purple-ruby colour; fairly intense blackcurrant, vanilla and berry notes; dry, medium-bodied, mouth watering, soft and smooth with a medium finish.

Banrock Station Shiraz (best)
Deep purple colour; ripe red berry fruit with mint and spice aromas; dry, full-bodied, black cherry and plum flavours with a touch of anise.

Peller Estate French Cross Shiraz (bad)
Flavours of plum, black currant and spice linger through on the finish.

Peller Estates French Cross Merlot (bad)
Flavours of currants and raspberries are followed by a touch of black pepper spice

Long Flat Cabernet Merlot (good)
Dark ruby; intense aromas of dark berry, black cherry and earth; medium-bodied, slightly more gentle on the palate than on the nose with ripe fruit flavours, soft tannins and crisp acidity.

Three Thieves Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon (bad)
Ruby with candied red berry aromas. Very soft red berry notes throughout.

Bistro Mundo Espagne
Featured dark berry fruit, vanilla, and some oaky spiciness on the nose. On the palate this New World-styled wine was juicy and balanced, featuring a nice (and surprising) presence of tannins and some finish, but very little acidity.

Bistro Mundo Tempanillo
This dry cherry-red coloured wine features medium animal and fruity scents and offers a slender texture as well as firm tannins.

French Rabbit Merlot
Deep garnet with a nose of bright raspberry with soft herb spice following into a medium long finish.

Lizard Flat Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (good)
Medium to dark ruby colour; intense aromas of ripe red fruit, oak, spices and vanilla; full-bodied, soft and fruity with flavours of ripe red fruit, spices, oak and leather ending with a lingering, balanced finish.

& Here's What We Thought of them:

Last night the Canoe Club hosted its first blind tasting of box wines (aka Tetra pack); or what is the least bad that you can take on a canoe trip?. We selected 11 box wines for a blind taste testing, with the identity of the wines being hidden till the end of the evening. The tasters, 12 of us, were given tasting notes for each wine along with the vineyard and grape varietal. So the challenge was to match the wine to the vineyard and to pick the best two or three.

Matching wines to the vineyards proved daunting. Ok we were brutal. The best of us managed to match 3 wines. The average score was between 1 and 2. A few of us take our drinking pretty seriously and have done Algonquin College’s Sommelier program. So we think we know how to taste, but apparently not.

Actually, the problem was not in the tasting, but the tasting notes given for the wines seem rather optimistic. Judging by the notes, you would think that we were tasting first growth Bordeaux’s; rather than stuff shipped over by the tanker and poured into boxes like gasoline. Be really wary when the box says ‘cellared in Ontario”.

Our overall impressions are that price and quality are highly correlated in the box wine category. So a higher price probably means a better wine. Second, blends of two wines might be better than a single grape varietal. So a cab/merlot has a better chance of being drinkable than Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon (for a similar price).

Onto our taste test:

Two wines were bought at the SAQ by the Casino, Bistro Mundo Espana and Bistro Mundo Tempranillo. Neither scored well in our tasting. The Espana had a slightly brownish hue, which might suggest some decent aging in an oak barrel, but the taste suggested that it had oxidised, yech. This one was poured down the drain.

Tempranillo is the grape used to make the great Spanish Rioja wines that I love so much. But disappointment once again and the Tempranillo was poured down the drain. At $10.45/liter perhaps we expected too much.

The two Peller Estate wines we sampled, French Cross Merlot and French Cross Shiraz were not liked that much either. Both were poured down the drain. These were rated do not buy.The Three Thieves Bandit (Cabernet Sauvignon) was another wine that faired poorly. The ‘very soft berry notes’ in its tasting notes seems to be code for nothing much to taste. Though one of us liked it enough to take it home.French Rabbit Merlot was given an ok rating. Its tasting notes ‘soft herb spice’, might again be code for not much there. This was another wine that went home, so one of us though it was ok.

Two wines tasted better than expected; Long Flat and Lizard Flat, both Cabernet Sauvingon/Merlot blends. The LCBO tasting notes for the Lizard Flat give: medium to dark ruby colour; intense aromas of ripe red fruit, oak, spices and vanilla; full-bodied, soft and fruity with flavours of ripe red fruit, spices, oak and leather ending with a lingering, balanced finish. This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the wine does show some complexity. Lizard Flat was rated a buy.The Long Flat Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend was taken home after the tasting, so I don’t have a second tasting for it. Its tasting notes (LCBO) are: dark ruby; intense aromas of dark berry, black cherry and earth; medium-bodied, slightly more gentle on the palate than on the nose with ripe fruit flavours, soft tannins and crisp acidity. “More gentle on the palate” again seems to be code for not much there. Better than French Rabbit or Bandit but not as good as Lizard Flat.

The tasters did not have much trouble spotting the Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz wines, and these won best in tasting. The Cabernet Sauvignon had tasting notes (LCBO) of deep purple-ruby colour; fairly intense blackcurrant, vanilla and berry notes; dry, medium-bodied, mouth watering, soft and smooth with a medium finish; while the Shiraz had deep purple colour; ripe red berry fruit with mint and spice aromas; dry, full-bodied, black cherry and plum flavours with a touch of anise. The Shiraz may have scored higher than the Cab, and both were quickly snapped up and taken home. So best buy even though they were the more expensive box wines at the LCBO).

We had high hopes for Baldivis Estate 2003 Shiraz. Yes 2003, not last week as what some of the box wines tasted like. It was rated yech in the tasting despite its being the most expensive wine. Its tasting notes give: bright dark purple ruby colour; aromas of plum, herb, red cherry, cassis, vanilla and spice; dry, medium to full bodied, with balanced acidity, moderate tannins, flavours of black fruit, spice and oak. My impressions of it upon a second tasting are much more positive. It is big and bold as is the style of many Australian Shiraz’s and it is drawing me back for more. Unlike the Tetra Pack wines, this comes in a mylar/plastic laminate bag, so even more weight savings for the portage. A value buyer should probably go with the Banrock Station wines.So as a few commented last night: You had better not bring this on a canoe trip!