Ashley and I found a deal on Snaggit.ca last week for Up Wine Bar’s ( web | twitter) first wine tasting. We had a great time, and I thought I’d give my impressions of the evening. First, the space is great - it’s a relaxing. The decor is modern with sort of French accents and brick. It only holds about 30 people, and all the surfaces are hard, so echoes were a problem. One group of guests were very noisy, and wouldn’t be quiet so we could all hear what our host, Doug, was trying to tell us about the wines. Some drapes or other soft surfaces would help to dampen the noise.
The prices were very attractive; since the portion sizes come as small as two ounces, it’d be easy for someone like myself with not a lot of money to drop in with some friends and try some nice wines.
The wine tasting itself was great; it was themed as “Canada vs France”, and with each wine, we compared and contrasted the two comparable wines.
Doug punctuated the evening with trivia and facts about the wine we were drinking and the wine making process. He was a pleasant host, but I feel like some of the people there were less interested in the wine then the should have been, considering they were at a wine tasting. More than once, another annoyed patron tapped their glass with a pen to settle everyone down (I appreciated it).
Below are my notes from the evening, with a great answer to a question I had at the end about affordable wines.
We began with a sparkling wine. Canada was a Peller Estates Ice Cuvee from Naiagra and France was a Pierre Sparr Brut from Cremant d’Alsace. The Canadian wine was acidic with a cleaner finish and was mixed with ice wine for a dosage, while the French wine was a lot sweeter. Ashley and I are going to try and get a bottle of the Peller Estates for our honeymoon suite :)
The second contrasted a Canadian 2007 Le Clos Jordanne Terrace Chardonnay from Niagara with a 2007 William Fevre Chablis. The former was very oaky, with a burnt taste - maybe even a bit too burnt. The later was fresher, with a lemony taste.
The third featured a 2007 Le Clos Jordanne, Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir with a 2005 Bouchard Pere & Fils 1er Cru, Beaune du Château, Burgundy. The Canadian wine was very fruity and tannic while the French wine was very earthy. He used the term “mushroomy”, but I don’t eat mushrooms, so I couldn’t comment on that. It smelled really full and earthy - almost like dirt- which is apparently typical of a red burgundy , while still having a lighter body.
To finish, we had an amazing 2006 Osoyoos Larose, Le Grand Vin from the Okanagan Valley and a 2005 Château Brillette from Moulis en Médoc. The Canadian one had fruitiness and acidity, with quite a lot of tannin; he mentioned it could be aged to soften the tannin a little. The Bordeaux, which is apparently an exceptional vintage for a Bordeaux, also had acidic, tannic fruitiness. The Canadian wine was great, but I liked the Bordeaux more.
Doug ended the evening with some port, which I didn’t care for, but everyone else seemed to like.
As a student, the wine I buy usually costs $12 or $13. Many of the wines we had last night were in the $50 range. I asked if there was anything worth buying in the $20-$30 range that would make the extra money worth it; in other words, is the difference between a $12 bottle and a $25 bottle worth it, or should I just save up for something extra nice?
Doug answered that there were a lot of affordable wines. He said to avoid anything from Australia for less than $25 - an Aussie in the crowd took offense - and look into a Connoisseur Pinot Noir - I didn’t copy down the country, unfortunately, so if anyone’s hear of this, please let me know - any New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and any Argentinian Malbec. He also mentioned that Chile has everything going for it now in terms of wine making, so check out wines from that region.