Happy Canada Day, everyone! I would have been remiss if I didn’t focus on a wine from my home and native land tonight, but that proved to be more of a challenge than I thought, as my cellar’s currently a little thin on the Canada front — out of the 90-odd bottles that I keep stored in an army of wine fridges in my basement, only two of them are from Canada. One of them is a $15 Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon that I’m a little scared to open, and the other one is this bottle. Fearing the patriotic retribution that might ensue if I rated a cheap Canadian wine 65 points on Canada Day, I instead went with this bottle, the 2006 Superego from Therapy Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. You may know Therapy from their ink-blot labels and punny wine names (Freudian Sip white blend, Pink Freud rosé, etc.); the Superego is their top red bottling, made from top quality grapes using stringent processes to be Therapy’s flagship wine. As you can see in the picture to the left, it comes in an absolutely spectacular-looking bottle that rivals Chile’s Montes Folly Syrah as my favourite wine label art of all time. I got this particular bottle from a fellow wine lover and a Therapy devotee (thanks Allison!) and have been holding it for the right occasion. Happy 144th, Canada — tonight I pop and pour for you!
The precise blend in the Superego changes every year, but in 2006 it was 55% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 8% Shiraz (I don’t know why it’s not referred to as “Syrah” here: the only two countries that I’ve seen employ the alternate wording “Shiraz” are Australia and South Africa…but I digress). The first three grapes are the primary varietals found in the renowned red blends from Bordeaux, France; the Shiraz makes this a Bordeaux blend with a twist. The wine was a gorgeous colour, an electric shiny translucent purple that practically vibrated in the glass. Unfortunately, that energy was dampened somewhat on the nose by the over-prominent effects of significant oak aging: the Superego was aged in small oak barrels for 18 months (the smaller the barrel, the more surface contact between the oak and the wine and the greater the resulting oak flavour in the finished wine), and that was reflected in overt notes of cedar, smoke and tobacco — all direct effects of oak aging — that stood out front and centre. There was fruit too, sweet cherry/kirsch and cassis, as well as some savoury, spicy notes (paprika?), but to me, they were a bit muted in comparison to the oakiness. On the palate, though, the fruit came first, with an initial wave of blackberry and black raspberry that led into dark chocolate, licorice, a distinct pomegranate/citrus note and more oak/wood flavour. The Superego was fairly full-bodied, though not as lush as you might expect from a New World Merlot/Cab blend; it was a little thin on the midpalate after the immediate burst of fruit faded away, but it had a long, elegant finish, strong supporting acid and fine tannins.
I appreciated the fact that this wine had a little bit of built-in restraint and wasn’t over-opulent, and I particularly appreciated the fact that Therapy hasn’t gone all Oculus with its pricing and has fought the urge to stick it to consumers in the name of brand image (the Superego runs around $40 a bottle, about half the price of Mission Hill’s Oculus, even though both are Okanagan Bordeaux-style blends of similar quality). Superego is an enjoyable weekend dinner wine backed by superior marketing savvy, but the 2006 was a little heavy-handed on the oak treatment for my tastes; still a solid bottle of wine, but not quite a star.
$35 to $45 CDN[Wine Jargon Notes: New World = Old World wines are those that come from Europe; New World wines are those from non-European locations like the US, Australia, South America
midpalate = when you taste a wine, the initial taste impression you get is called the attack; the final taste impression as and after you swallow is the finish; everything in between is the midpalate]