Tinhorn Creek Oldfield’s Collection 2Bench White 2007: The 2Bench White has been around for a few years, and winemaker Sandra Oldfield has been carefully fine-tuning the blend to achieve the complexity she is looking for. The wine is designed to be an “age-worthy” white that can be kept under screwtop for 2-4 years after release, which is why I snagged a lonely bottle of 2007 I spotted in Wall Centre Fine Spirits. Having already acquired the 2008 2Bench, and seeing the 2009 just starting to appear on store shelves, I have the potential for a 3-year vertical that I can set aside for a special occasion in the next year. Under Sandra’s watchful eye, the blend in 2Bench has been changing substantially, and is now primarily Chardonnay, while back in 2007 it consisted of 49% Semillon with lesser proportions of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Muscat. In 2008 the Semillon and Chardonnay were almost even while for 2009 the Chardonnay has been bumped up to 44% with the Semillon down to 17%, below Sauvignon Blanc. It should be quite exciting to try all three years against one another and examine how the different proportions of grapes express themselves.
Road 13 Jackpot Chardonnay 2007: Road 13’s reserve tier of wines is called “Jackpot”, and includes Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Despite recently phasing out many of their individual varietal wines in favour of new blends such as Rockpile and Stemwinder I can’t imagine Road 13 cancelling the Jackpot series, at least not in its entirety. They have increased the prices however, as the 2008 vintage of Jackpot Chardonnay is up to $41 from $35; a hefty increase in an economy that is seeing some producers lower their prices. Although the Jackpot Chardonnay has been well reviewed in the past, the 2008 vintage didn’t fare so well from prominent critic Anthony Gismondi. Considering that Mission Hill’s highly-ranked, ultra-premium Perpetua Chardonnay is going for only $35, Road 13 may want to reconsider their pricing strategy. With my 2008 Chardonnay collection filling up fast I doubt I’ll spring for the 2008 Jackpot Chardonnay, but the 2007 will have a spot in the 2007 collection.
Road 13 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: Road 13 is one of those valuable wineries that excels in the areas of white and red wines. Their Cabernet Sauvignon has achieved a certain cult status among collectors, who gasped in disbelief when it was announced the 2007 would be the final year, at least for a while, of this well-loved wine. Having already picked up a bottle of the recently released 2007, which is still quite prevalent, I have been on the lookout for the 2006 for some time. Road 13’s 2006 release received a high silver in both the 2008 and 2009 Canadian Wine Awards – where it was praised for being “a complete, and finally, ripe wine” in a field full of unripe, all-too-green competitors (no Gold’s were awarded for this varietal in either year). Having finally acquired this nearly extinct beast on Saturday I checked out some reviews upon returning home and that’s when the story took a strange twist. You see, Anthony Gismondi, Editor-in-Chief of Wine Access, and Senior Judge at the Wine Access-produced Canadian Wine Awards, gave a rather poor rating to this wine back in 2008. His verdict – “under-ripe” – flies directly in the face of the repeated medals his own magazine gave out two years in a row! Do I trust Gismondi alone, or the blind tasting panel of which he was a member? Such is the often confusing and see-sawing world of wine reviews! I've made the decision to cellar this wine alongside it’s brother, the Lt. Governor’s Award-winning Road 13 2006 Fifth Element red blend; I look forward to trying them in tandem when my 2006 collection gets opened in a few years.