SAVVY SIPPING — SNAP Sea To Sky September 2010 edition

“The Virtue of Patience”

We recently took a trip to visit old friends of ours in Kelowna; friends who have a swimming pool; definitely the highlight of the trip for our 2 year old daughter! So as Scarlett started by easing her way into the water, (first sitting on the edge, then working her way to jumping in with hands held, and by the third day running headlong off the edge and splashing into the arms of whichever adult happened to be in the water at the time), we made a pact with our generous hosts to drink only good wine during the visit. It was a vintage evening, with perfectly prepared food I sadly do not have time to delve into, but the wines ranging in age from 6 to 11 years, were superb.

The Starter Shafer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1999: still inky dark in the centre of the glass yet showing its age around the edge where the purple fades to a ruddy reddish tone. The nose offering dried cassis, prune plums, cocoa and earthy cigar box aromas. The palate is still well structured with the tannins softening in their age yet still supportive of the sweet leathery fruit, black liquorice, and nearly nutty oak character, with a warm and persistent finish.

The Head to Head Mission Hill Family Estate Oculus 2003 vs. Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2003. Both from the same year, both produced with similar grape varieties, of course sharing several similarities, yet maintaining distinctly different characteristics. Each wine was starting to show the ruddy fade of colour, each wine offering more mature notes on the nose and palate. The Oculus with a more modern style overall had a bit brighter fruit character with kirsch, baked cherry, woodspice notes, and softer tannins, while the Osoyoos Larose was a more true throwback to the Bordelaise with a dense structure, and notes of raisiny cassis, violet and earthy dried pepper. Both wines complemented the lamb magnificently.

The Surprise Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir 2004: the inaugural vintage of this highly esteemed vineyard, who for several years produced grapes for other wineries and now have created a cult following for their exquisite Pinot. Still fairly youthful in character this medium bodied wine maintains a wonderful freshness to its acidity and red dominant fruit character layered with notes of crushed strawberries, dried leaves, game, and a delicate clove like spice. Wonderfully balanced with a lingering finish, this wine will continue to develop over time.

The Closer Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2002: a perennial standout produced from the oldest Cabernet vines in Washington state. A beautifully balanced wine from start to finish, slightly red-brick in colour with flavours and aromas of crushed violets, dried black cherries, cassis, dusty packed earth, and old cedar, Wonderfully integrated spicy oak and a very long elegant finish – an incredible wine with a little more longevity to it as well.

So just as Scarlett was rewarded with taking her time as she ventured more and more boldly into the pool, so too were we rewarded with the virtue of patience and time with truly memorable vintage wines. The moral of the story: take your time, and life is too short to drink bad wine.


Michael Kompass