[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]
Divino's Stone Cellar, a.k.a. Tasting Central.
I had fully intended that this monthly post would showcase a different player in the Calgary wine scene every month, highlighting the incredible depth of industry talent we have at our disposal locally. And yet here I am, in CIA post #4, writing about another tasting put on by Bin 905, hosts of the Jim Barry Armagh tasting I covered back in February. I know we have a remarkable array of wine stores out there, and I know many of them are doing great things with their event schedules, but I can’t say that I feel bad about the Bin 905 duplication because the tasting I went to on Saturday was just that cool. Held at Divino restaurant’s Stone Cellar, it was a 12-bottle vertical tasting of one of the best and most historic producers of the famed Chateauneuf-de-Pape region in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, Chateau de Beaucastel. A vertical tasting provides a unique opportunity to track the progress of a wine as it ages and lets you see the impact that a given year has on the style and flavour of a bottle, since you taste the same producer’s wine over a number of vintages; in this case, we tried Beaucastels from the mid-90s through the late-oos (whatever you call that decade), as well as one particularly special bottle from the tremendous vintage of 1989. The initial tasting program featured far fewer bottles, but Bin 905 had the ingenious idea of offering people a free seat at the tasting if they brought a bottle of Beaucastel from a year that wasn’t yet in the lineup. Thanks to a number of philanthropic volunteers, we all got treated to the most complete vertical tasting I’ve ever been a part of…which isn’t saying much, since I’ve only been a part of two, but it was still impressive.
Chateau de Beaucastel is a legendary producer in Chateauneuf-de-Pape: along with a handful of others, it represents the creme de la creme of the region’s growers and winemakers. CNDP stands out as a wine region because it permits 13 different grape varieties (combined red and white) to be included in its wines, a number that is dramatically higher than most other European wine-growing areas. Beaucastel in turn stands out as a producer because, in almost all of its bottlings of red CNDP, it incorporates all 13 varietals into the mix, even the whites. Like most other wineries from Chateauneuf-de-Pape, Beaucastel’s blends rely mostly on the big three red Southern Rhone grapes — Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre — but Beaucastel again takes a particularly individual approach to its winemaking by incorporating much more Mourvedre (usually around 30%) and much less Syrah (usually around 10%) in its blends as compared to most of its brethren. The result is a deeper, thicker, more complex wine that ages very well and that spawns a host of secondary flavours after a few years in the bottle. I had only ever had Chateau de Beaucastel from a recently-released vintage, and it was so knotted and closed upon opening that I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about until about 2 hours later, when I came back to the wine to find an absolute labyrinth of tastes and smells just starting to stretch their legs. At the time I thought: how great would it be to try one of these after it has had a proper chance to age? It turns out I went one better, sitting down to this amazing event that brought a dozen bottles of Beaucastel from 5 to 23 years old into my grasp. Read the rest of this entry »