Monday, July 4, 2011

The North American Champion

I think I'm a tad happier about Canada going up against the US in a virtual wine contest than on the field at the Women's World Cup. The US has won the World Cup twice and is going into the 2011 tournament as one of the top ranked teams. I couldn't even tell you when the Canadian gals last beat the US - if, indeed, they ever have.

United States

Most people would likely cringe at the thought of even matching Canadian wines against American ones as well - but I think we've got some wines, particularly with the whites, where we can completely hold our own. However, since we have a financial limit to the cost of the wines in these early rounds and since Boo, once again, has me on a "No Buy Leash," I had to just pull two wines that we have in the cellar for tonight's contest.

I actually don't know anything about the American winery, but something must have tweaked my interest enough to pick up a bottle. It's likely the fact that it's a Riesling. Regular readers will know that I'm rather fond of my Rieslings. Hopefully, this match-up isn't skewed too much in the Americans' favour because of the varietal.

841. 2008 Montinore Estate - Almost Dry Riesling (Willamette Valley - Oregon)

842. 2008 Poplar Grove Pinot Gris (Okanagan Valley)

I think the operative part of the American label is "Almost Dry." Myself, I might be inclined to say, "Almost Dry - But Still Really Close to a Dessert Wine." To me, "almost dry" should still connote some presence of acidity - to counter the residual sugar. Maybe things are a little different in Oregon though, because I didn't particularly find any "dry" to this wine.

That's not always a bad thing. There are plenty of occasions that cry out for a little sweetness. I'm not so sure that a head-to-head taste off against a Pinot Gris is one of them though.

Montinore's website says that the Almost Dry Riesling has gone "through an evolution over the last few years" and that they've "come to realize that we like this Riesling with just the slightest hint of sweetness on the front of the palate with a crisp and dry finish." That's what I would have hoped for as well, but I don't think that description was fully delivered in the bottle. Perhaps that description relates to the fact that they're now promoting the 2010 vintage and we opened the 2008.

The Montinore label refers to the wine as organic; however, the website states that the estate vineyards were actually certified as biodynamic in 2008. That's some big time organic. We still don't don't tend to see a lot of organic wines in Vancouver. So, that's a definite plus in my books. I wouldn't be opposed to sampling one of Montinore's other wines - particularly a Pinot Noir since that's probably the most notable varietal that abounds in the Willamette Valley - but, hopefully, it wouldn't be "almost dry."

In any event, the Poplar Grove Pinot Gris was the favourite for the night. Owner, Ian Sutherland, refers to the Pinot Gris as the winery's "signature white wine." As much as I like Poplar Grove, this wasn't exactly everything that I'd hoped it would be either. Its tendency to "off-dry" with this vintage might have left the Canadian "entry" as an also ran in this "World Cup" match had the American wine not been even sweeter.

I don't want to be simply branded as a "homer" here, but I'm going to give the wine win to Canada. It's only a 1-0 score though as neither wine really captured the imagination with a stellar performance. I don't know if the result on a soccer pitch would be the same but that will have to be for another occasion. I actually wouldn't mind seeing our girls meet the Americans in the real World Cup though. It'd mean that they've moved well along into the playoffs - where anything, like a Canadian 1-0 win, is possible.

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