Tuesday Tipplers

October 10, 1989


The October meeting of the Tipplers was held at the Finnie household, with a remarkably full turnout giving rise to some concerns as to whether or not there would be enough wine to satisfy the collective palate. Even the Irish contingent put in a strong showing, although Eakins was a little late in arriving after exploring a large area of Byron for reasons known only to himself. Heizer failed to answer the summons and has yet to reply to the message left on his irrepressibly pert answering machine.


The evening commenced with a glass of Terres Blanches Rose 1987, an appellation Coteaux d'Aix Provence ($13.20) while matters of a business  nature were discussed. The schedule of the remainder of the tippling year was confirmed as follows:


    November            Eakins

    December            Batson

    January                Holliday

    February              Lobb

    March                  Lee (N.B. 3rd Tuesday of the month)

    April                     Flanagan

    May                     The Infamous Dinner


We discussed the possibility of some kind of excursion with a viniferous theme, in addition to the annual dinner. Ian suggested considering a wine buying trip to Seagram's in Kitchener, while both Richard and Keith were rather taken with the idea of a wine-tasting trip to selected wineries of the Niagara Peninsula, preferably by chauffeur driven charabanc. No final resolution of the matter was achieved at this meeting, but it seems worthy of future discussion. We also agreed that either the November or December tasting (probably the latter) should be devoted to sampling of wines with the potential to be laid down by the Tipplers for future consumption. As for the Rose, it was very well received by the group and generally consider good value. Both Richard and Peter thought that Keith might have pulled a fast one by mixing red and white as recently described by Bill Munnelly, but that would certainly have been the product of a very devious mind (although I do admit to having briefly considered the tactic).


We proceeded to the main theme of the evening, a blind tasting of 6 wines from a mysterious region (the southwest of France). The Tipplers were in less than stellar form on the evening, failing not only to successfully pinpoint the region of interest but also being spectacularly unsuccessful in identifying the said country of origin! Ian was not at all nonplussed by this sad performance, as the wines were generally not well rated, confirming his well known contempt for things French. We samples 1 white and 5 reds, in the $7 to $19 price range.


    1986 Chateau La Jaubertie ($12.50) Bergerac

A nicely made, well balanced white with a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes from a historic chateau, once the property of Henry IV, which also produces an excellent sister red wine. Nobody thought this was French, and most pegged it as a Riesling, quite possibly a Canadian one "in the Alsatian style" (Richard). Nice colour, pleasant bouquet and very easy to knock back; high marks all around.


    1985 Chateau Clares ($8.25) Gaillac

Not at all well received. Pour colour, no nose to speak of, no body and no finish. The Gaillac wines are probably the oldest in the region and are usually considered to have a clean flavour and bouquet and to drink well when young. Nobody had anything particularly complimentary to say about this one, thought possible to be a rather nasty Pinot Noir.


    1986 Buzet Carte D'or ($7.85) Cotes de Buzet

Again there were no rave reviews for this red from a region which borders on, and has long been considered an integral part of, the classic Bordeaux vineyard area. With such a promising geographic pedigree, the Buzet proved extremely disappointing. It was generally thought to be rather thin and mean and not a particularly good buy even at the bargain basement price. So much for our hopes of finding an acceptable claret at Baby Duck prices.


    1986 Chateau Bellevue La Foret ($7.35) Cotes du Frontonnais

By this stage of the proceedings, general agreement had been reached on 3 points:  we were tasting Spanish, South American, Portuguese or (heaven forbid) Canadian wines, they were good ones to lay down and avoid and it was our fervent hope that the $19 bottle was yet to come!  Fortunately, a few insightful members of the buy now somewhat truculent Tipplers felt that his red represented a small step in the right direction.  Richard pronounced an aroma of mothballs while Ross thought it metallic and earthy and Ian merely grunted something unintelligible.  However with due regard of the price and a certain amount of repetitive sampling a grudging passing grade was duly awarded.


    1983 Chateau de Tiregand ($14.05) Pecharmant

A somewhat more mature red with a bit more body than the previous offerings.  Keith had high expectations of this one in light of his previous experience with the 1982 (3 bottles of which still remain in his cellar).  There was some disagreement about this one and Ron thought it had a nasty aftertaste (he should try the '82!)  At twice the price of the earlier bottles it failed to deliver the goods.


    1978 Chateau Haut-Serre ($19.30) Cahors

Keith dropped the first real hint of the evening as he poured this into the sacred flag on of our esteemed ex-President, pronouncing the colour "extremely disappointing".  Richard latched on to this like a rat up a drainpipe and, in tones of sarcastic timbre, announced that this must be the famous "black wine of Cahors", but badly faded (little did he know),  General merriment ensured, shortly to be followed by stunned silence as the general unveiling revealed our fearless leader to have been right on the money.  Certainly this red gave no hint of blackness and its colour was really quit unimpressive compared with earlier bottles.  Opinion was again divided, Richard finding pleasing flavours of raspberry while peter rather uncharitably likened it to Benylin (a proprietary cough syrup, for the benefit of those without an MD or small children).  Nobody was willing to consider forking over $19 for this one.


We were forced to concede that, while SW France may be a delightful spot to visit and while away a couple of summer weeks, its wines are less impressive and travel less well than the regional reputation.  Trevor made the insightful observation that these wines were quite likely much more agreeable when consumed in conjunction with the local cuisine, so perhaps we could make a trip there rather than to the Niagara Peninsula next year?  On that fanciful note we retired to the dinner table for blueberry pie with fresh cream, coffee and a glass of California ELYSIUM BLACK MUSCAT ($18.15).  The muscat proved exceedingly fine and the Tipplers departed leaving an empty bottle and a certain amount of unfinished red wine for Keith to blend and consume at his leisure.


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