Friday, July 3, 2009

It's Time to Test

Despite having celebrated Boo's birthday a couple of days early at Ouest to finish off the NYC jaunt, there's not much chance I could let the actual b-day slip by without something of an event back home. Even if it was just a dinner at home, I did break out one of those special occasion wines. There may not have been any candles or extravagant courses of exotic fare as we flopped out in front of the TV but at least he got to drink well.

90. 2001 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield's Collection Merlot - Cork Closure (VQA - Okanagan)

91. 2001 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield's Collection Merlot - Stelvin Screwcap Closure (VQA - Okanagan)

In 2004, partially in celebration of 10 years of production, Sandra Oldfield and the crew at Tinhorn Creek released their first premium level wine. And to top it off, they introduced it with a bit of flair - they offered an option of a two-pack in which they served up the same wine, but with a twist. One bottle was finished with the traditional cork and the second was closed with a Stelvin screwcap. The idea was to ready the BC public for buying premium red wines with a screwcap and to give patrons an opportunity to try the same wine, side-by-side, and see if and how they aged differently.

We figured it was time to give it a go and see if there was a marked difference. With all the general conjecture about screwcap wines having greater potential to age with more vibrancy, I was expecting the screwcap bottle to offer up a lot more fruit and leave me proclaiming that all wines should forego the cork.

Now, neither Boo nor I considered our palates to be sophisticated beyond your basic "Mmmm, tastes pretty red to me." (I jest; we're not that bad.) However, neither one of us noticed a sufficient enough difference in the two wines to pick a clear favourite. My take would be that the fruit on the nose was perhaps a bit more vigorous with the screwcap wine and there was more of an earthiness to the palate with the cork closure. But, all the same, neither one offered up a lot of fruit.

When push came to shove, we both thought that the screwcap wine was a slight favourite, but neither one was substantially different. Even on the second night, I had to really think it through when Boo gave me a glass of each and asked me to identify which wine was which. I got it right but I was surprised on how little difference there was.

It might have been that we'd held on to the wines a bit longer than we should have when it comes to the retention of fruit on the profile, but my guess is that waiting to find such a difference was part of the scheme and the expectations. I don't think I could say there a marked improvement in the wine due to the closure, but I should think that the switch over to screwcap would be deemed a success if the winery could prevent the loss of 2-10% of their bottles to cork taint.

Happy Happy Boo.

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