Thursday, June 12, 2014

One New Grape Just Screams for Another

I'll readily admit that I'm a sucker for a wine that features intriguing grapes - particularly ones that I haven't tallied yet for the Wine Century Club. I added another last night and I'm about to add #173 now - but I gotta say "It's not getting any easier to find new varieties." Luckily, with BC being a cool climate wine region, we can see the odd experimental attempt to try a new variety - ones that are noted as being particularly suitable for those regions on the edge of being viable wine regions.

Valentin Blattner, a Swiss grape geneticist, breeder and winemaker, has been working in the field (literally and figuratively) since the 1980's to develop disease resistant grapes for cooler climate regions. His hybrids are now grown in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, BC, Ontario and the Canadian Maritime provinces. In the last decade or so, he has collaborated directly with a handful of BC winemakers and growers to look at varieties that might work well on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

That means he's also helped increase my Wine Century Club tally a bit here and there. There aren't exactly a lot of wines available in the BC market that feature Blattner hybrids. Not many growers are willing to take a chance on unproven grapes with names that no one will recognize. Further, those growers that are willing don't necessarily produce large quantities of wine - with very little of it, if any, making it to the Vancouver market.  Every once in awhile, though, I'll run across one.

1626.  2009 Salt Spring Vineyards Cabernet Libre (Gulf Islands - BC)

I've previously added three of the Blattner hybrids to my Wine Century Club count - Petite Milo, Epicure, Cabernet Foch - and all of them hailed from Vancouver Island of the Gulf Islands. While the whites might find an easier way into the market, I am fascinated by the thought of "bigger" reds being produced on the costal islands. The couple I've tasted - this Cabernet Libre included - don't exactly match up to the traditional Merlot, Cab, Syrah palate though.

Local wine writer, John Schreiner, finds that Blattner's Cabernet Foch and Cabernet Libre "have retained little of the flavour of the Cabernet Sauvignon in their ancestry. Typically, the wines are leaner, with spicy, earthy flavours." Boo and I found the wine surprisingly big bodied while still maintaining big acidity. Both of us agreed that the wine tasted much more balanced with food than when drinking it on its own. As such, serving it with a group of folks while dining might be more appropriate than just drinking a bottle on our own.

I suppose we could also look at making the bottle last over two nights - but how likely is that going to be around here?

In any event, there's another little wine adventure under the belt. And, with two new grape additions to the wine Century Club in two nights, I might just be able to hit the doppel Century Club membership before I hit my goal of 2001 bottles on The List.

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