Some New Wines to Look For and Try

Since September there have been some good additions to the Yukon Liquor Corp. (YLC) shelves.

October and November seem to be emerging as the wine tasting season in the Yukon. In the span of five weeks, I participated in, or organized, three events: the October Rotary festival in Whitehorse, the second annual tasting held by KIAC in Dawson City, and the Yukon Arts Centre event in conjunction with the new Hawksley Workman production, called The God that Comes.

At the Rendezvous Rotary Club’s 22nd annual Fine Wine and Food Festival event 550 Yukon wine lovers were treated to more than 200 new wines from around the world. I love that approximately 85 per cent of the wines were new to the Yukon.

My two favourites were a 2003 Portuguese red, Caves Sao Joao Reserva ($27.00), and an Underwood Cellars Oregon Pinot Noir ($20.35). Both offerings sold out from the YLC, but I was able to grab and enjoy several bottles of each.

Happily, the Underwood Pinot was added to the YLC list, and is back. My partner and I tried it with some goat’s cheese brie and liver pate, and it was delicious. Outside of France, the best pinot noirs in the world are coming out of Oregon, and this is a pretty decent example.

Wine Enthusiast magazine wrote of the 2011 vintage, at the YLC:

“Forward, appealing flavours with an emphasis on tart strawberry fruit put a lively snap into the mid-palate. The tannins are present but balanced, and the wine delivers a lot of clean flavour for the price. Best Buy.”

They’re right.

This year, KIAC really wanted their tasting to include some of what was served at the Rotary Wine Festival, so I took up nine wines that were all very enthusiastically received. Though some of them didn’t make it to the YLC list, keep your eyes peeled in B.C. or Alaska.

The wines were:

Two whites, a Generation Seven white blend from Ontario, which we very successfully paired with a curry appetizer, and a Hawkes Bay New Zealand Matua Sauvignon Blanc, which was one of the very first New Zealand sauvignon blancs, with vines planted way back in 1969.

The six reds included the aforementioned Underwood Pinot Noir, and a Grao Vasco Dao Portuguese, made of a blend of some of the great traditional Portuguese red wine grapes.

I think Portuguese reds are going to be coming into their own over the next couple of years. They are great food wines, and very reasonably priced. If you see one, give it a try.

We also served a Miopasso Primitivo from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot). Primitivo grapes, genetically, are extremely similar to zinfandel. Both are clones of a Croatian grape called crljenak. A clone can occur naturally, or as the result of a grower grafting the branch of one grape onto the root of another.

We also offered a Donnafugata Sedara Nero d’Avola wine from Sicily that was aged in concrete tanks, and a Marques de Caceres Crianza Rioja (around $17), made with traditional Tempranillo and Garnacha Tinta Spanish Grapes.

We rounded out the reds with a Wayne Gretzky Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah. I was in the Okanagan in September, and the emerging standout grape is the syrah. I haven’t found any pure B.C. VQA syrahs up here, but this was as close as I could get.

The Great One was not only a decent hockey player, he seems to know his way around a vineyard.

We finished the evening with a Rosa di Sera Spumante Extra Dry, which is a fun, not-too-sweet bubbly, to accompany desert.

So keep you eyes peeled for these good, new wines. You can, and should, try the Underwood.

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