A seminar sampling the top wines from several of the most interesting producers attending the festival this year revealed some excellent wines. A particular standout for me was Bodega Garzon, a winery from Uruguay, making some elegant, minerally Tannat that is truly delicious and fascinating wines. Reports say their Albarino is also exciting. This is a winery to seek out on the festival tasting floor.
I was also extremely impressed with the wine poured by Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge (the Methode Classique Brut Reserve 2008). You would not think Nova Scotia can make wine, but it is the strange microclimate created by the Bay of Fundy that allows the grapes at this estate to gain phenolic ripeness equivalent to the Sonoma Valley while picking in November and retaining massive acidity. This is a recipe for great sparkling and I was very impressed by the extremely salty, high acid but rich Brut Reserve.
Familia Castano’s Casa Cisca Monastrell 2012 was a powerful masterpiece of 100+ year old bush vines from southwest in Spain. A rich wine, but great balance and minerality here too. It was a standout from a part of Spain that usually doesn’t excite me.
Both Argentinian wines showed very well. Familia Zuccardi’s Aluvional 2012 (a Malbec from La Consulta) was a very fruity, pure wine. Fermented in concrete it offers a direct line to the purity and quality of the Malbec from La Consulta. The ever-consistent Bodega Catena Zapata poured the powerful but elegant masterpiece Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Vineyard Malbec 2012, which was extremely floral and expressive and further proof the estate makes wines of inimitable quality.
Australia offered Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2015 – one of my favourite wines from that country and now a cult-wine very hard to obtain. This was the most transparent wine of the tasting, with the greatest drinkability and a profundity you get only from the world’s greatest wines.
Taylor Fladgate’s 2007 Vintage Port is the best Port I’ve had from that vintage. Really well done, if a little expensive.
Wines Tasted and Rated
All the wineries reviewed below are pouring wines (at more accessible prices) on the festival floor.
1. Benjamin Bridge Methode Classique Brut Reserve 2008: Excellent. $74.
2. Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Camelot Highlands Chardonnay 2014: Very Good. $65.
3. Familia Castano Casa Cisca Monastrell 2012: Excellent. $56.
4. Bodega Garzon Tannat Reserva 2015. Excellent. $45.99.
5. Gerard Bertrand La Forge 2014. Very Good+ to Excellent. $79.99
6. Vina Montes Purple Angel 2013. Very Good+ to Excellent. $68.99
7. Familia Zuccardi Aluvional 2012. Excellent. $82.
8. Bodega Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Vineyard Malbec 2012: Excellent to Excellent+. $135.71
9. Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2015. Excellent+. $95.69.
10. Kendall-Jackson Stature Red 2013. Excellent. $150.
11. Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2007. Excellent to Excellent+. $210.