Another Winnipeg Wine Festival has come and gone, and I find myself left with a whole pile of (barely legible) tasting notes.
So rather than reflect too much on the entire event -- I'll do that once organizers release the final attendance numbers as well as money raised for Special Olympics Manitoba -- I figured I should share some of my most interesting finds at the festival while they were still fresh in my mind.
While not necessarily my absolute favourites from the week, here are some of the most interesting wines, from lightest to heaviest, that I tried -- wines that stuck in my head long after I tasted them.
Most of these wines are regularly available in Manitoba. Once leftover special-order wines become available at select Liquor Marts in the next week or two, I'll tackle them as well.
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CODORNIU NV BRUT PINOT NOIR (Cava, Spain -- $17.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Made in the traditional method of sparkling wine production, this Spanish pink bubbly wraps strawberry, melon and cherry aromas in herbal, doughy notes. Light-bodied, crisp, fresh red berries lead the charge, with bright effervescence and light acidity keeping things lively. 3 stars
VALLEY OF THE GIANTS 2013 SAUVIGNON BLANC-SEMILLON (Western Australia -- $13.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Many Aussie wineries were showcasing crisp white blends rather than richer, oaked Chardonnay this year. Lemon, grapefruit, lime-rind and green-apple aromas dominate on this white blend, with those bright, cherry-citrus notes shining on the light-bodied palate. Western Aussie producers do this style well. 3 1/2
SERESIN 2011 SAUVIGNON BLANC (Marlborough, New Zealand -- $25.85, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Red-apple, lemon-juice, mango, peach and light herbal notes show very well on the nose. The addition of five per cent Semillon and just a bit of oak aging gives it more weight and texture than many of its fellow Kiwi whites, and the mineral, stone-fruit apple and vanilla/spice notes impart far more complexity too. 4 stars
MONEMVASIA 2012 ASYRTIKO (Laconia, Greece -- $14.52, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Very aromatic, this Asyrtiko brings fresh floral, spice, marmalade, peach and herbal notes on the nose. It's a light-plus bodied, off-dry Greek white, with peach, honey, lemon-candy and spice notes delivering great complexity for the price. Serve well chilled. 3 1/2
LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS 2013 FAMILY SELECTION CHARDONNAY (Casablanca Valley, Chile -- $17.87, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Peach, flint, red-apple, lemon-juice and vanilla notes on the nose are classic New World Chardonnay notes. It's a medium-plus bodied, viscous white, with ripe stone fruit, pineapple and red-apple flavours working well a with modest oak influence. 3 1/2
FLAT ROCK 2010 PINOT NOIR (Twenty Mile Bench, Ont. -- $26.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Pale ruby in colour, the Flat Rock brings tart-raspberry and dried cherry notes together with spice, smoke and cola notes on the nose. It's an elegant, light-bodied red that melds that red-fruit component with white-pepper, black-tea and mild herbal notes. 4 stars
CEDARCREEK 2009 PINOT NOIR (Okanagan Valley, B.C. -- $30.04, Liquor Marts and beyond)
An intersesting contrast to the Flat Rock, the CedarCreek delivers riper cherry and raspberry notes on the nose, plus some plum, cola and earth. A medium-bodied, berry-driven Pinot Noir, the CedarCreek works an earthy note into the equation as well. 4 stars
VIÑA ZACO 2010 TEMPRANILLO (Rioja, Spain -- $15.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Textbook Tempranillo aromas are here in spades: raspberry, licorice, dried cherry, and hints of vanilla, earth and plum. Medium-plus bodied and dry, the Viña Zaco delivers red-berry notes as well as black tea, plum, and white pepper. Nice value. 4 1/2
WYNNS 2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Coonawarra, Australia -- $20.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Anise, blueberry, cassis, eucalyptus, plum and light-spice notes are quintessentially Coonawarra Cab. It's a soft, full-bodied red that delivers piles of that ripe, dark fruit with herbal, anise and white-pepper flavours. An excellent example of a Coonawarra red and an outstanding overall value. 4 stars
CLOS DE L'ORATOIRE 2011 CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE (Chateauneuf du Pape, France -- $51.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Mineral and earth notes bring Old World charm with cherry and blackberry on this big Rhone red. It's full-bodied and complex, with licorice and white-pepper flavours adding depth to the rich cherry and blackberry notes. Drink or cellar for 5-8 years. 4 1/2
CONCHA Y TORO MARQUES DE CASA CONCHA CARMÈNERE (Peumo, Chile -- $19.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
The nose on this big Chilean red is jam-packed with raspberry, blackberry, vanilla, espresso and light peppery notes. Dense and full-bodied, it's a red driven by dark-berry and dark-chocolate flavours, with light tannin and acidity. 4 stars