Thursday, January 28, 2010

Women and Wine

I was a guest at a women's' wine club the other night, so I thought I'd share my experience. I met the lovely organizers of the wine club at the Ottawa Wine & Food Show and they were good enough to invite me to join. This week the ladies were exploring Argentina, most notably the Mendoza region.

Now you may be wondering, what do women do at a wine club? Come on, they just drink, right? Of course, we all enjoyed our wine, but it was also a chance to learn, educate, discuss and share. With varying degrees of wine knowledge and tasting experience, the group was a lively bunch with lots of questions, comments and opinions to share with each other and the two women who planned the evening. It was a chance for me to glimpse others' wine experiences and truly understand that everyone does have a different palate and often a different opinion of any given wine.

We tasted 8 wines in total, 2 whites and 6 reds, all from Mendoza, Argentina. Tasting sheets were made up and provided, with blank spaces for notes on the appearance, nose, palate and overall rating of each wine. All of the wines were procured from the Vintages section of the LCBO, and ranged in price from $14-$40 per bottle.

I was at once impressed and disappointed with my own wine knowledge -- I realized I need to brush up on what I learned at George Brown, or else attend more tastings! There really is something to be said for attending wine tastings and really training your palate. However, I do feel that the dare I say "academic" side of wine should definitely not be ignored! How will I be able to identify wines in a blind tasting if I don't remember that certain reds smell like violets because of where their grapes are grown? I did surprise myself with the number of typical Malbec characteristics I picked out and could remember from my previous wine courses.

The top 2 wines I enjoyed were:

2007 Catena Malbec (V) -- Although we opened it a couple of years too early according to the tasting notes, this wine had a really nice aroma and I found it well-balanced. Notes of cassis, black cherry, leather and wood, it was a layered, earthy and smooth tasting wine.

2008 Alamos Torrontes -- Argentina's most famous white grape, the Torrontes was lovely and floral with a crisp acidity. Fragrances of honeysuckle and white flowers made it a gorgeous smelling white, but when sipped it was crisp and refreshing.

The ladies were able to get the tasting notes from Jay Miller at and I found one of these descriptions wildly entertaining and very puzzling! The wine was Vino Alicia, a 2006 Malbec made by a female winemaker at a Boutique Winery in Mendoza. The tasting note was as follows:

The 2006 Malbec was aged for 16 months in new French oak. The nose reveals pain grille, Asian spices, cassis, black currants and black cherry leading to an opulent Malbec with layered fruit, serious depth and concentration, enough structure to evolve for 4-6 years and a 45-second finish. Enjoy it from 2011-2026.

I'm not sure about you, but that's the first time I've ever heard of a wine with notes of Asian spices! The grilled bread is a bit over the top but I guess if it had a toasty quality I could be on board with that descriptor, although I didn't detect that myself, not saying it wasn't there, just undetected by me. The best part is the 45 second finish -- is this guy really timing the finish of his wine? Smell, swirl, sip...ok now hit that timer! Aaannndddd, it's gone from the taste buds. Stop time! Maybe I'm just too much of a novice to know about timed finishes or Asian spiced wines, but these things definitely took me by surprise.

In the end, wines were sipped, conversations were sparked and we all went home with a bit more knowledge about ourselves and the wines we tasted. Thanks to Cindy & Marcy for inviting me to this interesting evening!


  1. Looks like a great lineup, is that Luigi Bosca on the far left? Great wine with some mint notes.

  2. No -- the wines were: Alamos Torrontes, Vina Cobos Felino Chardonnay, Catena Malbec, Santa Julia Magna, Clos de Los Siete and Vina Alicia Malbec. I will have to be on the lookout for Luigi Bosca...