Introducing: wYneYC

21 06 2017

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

fullsizerender-648.jpgI grew up in the days of monopolized government liquor sales and distribution in Alberta, and I distinctly remember going into the squat brick AGLC store with my parents when they were on the hunt for a new bottle of wine or spirits.  While government-controlled retail alcohol is still the norm in much of Canada, Alberta thankfully broke free of its state shackles before I hit adulthood, and now, not really that much later, it is a completely different world, with an ever-increasing number of remarkable producers from across the globe available in our market and very few barriers to introducing even more.  Slower to develop have been wine-buying alternatives to the standard visit to a retail shop:  online ordering, home delivery, personalized sourcing.  I can get almost every work of literature ever created from Amazon Prime within two business days, but our gloriously liberal wine commerce architecture has not yet fully embraced the electronic age and the consumer convenience that can come with it.  That’s why I always root for those ventures who come along and try.

wYneYC is just such a venture, an e-subscription wine club with a twist, featuring a revolving door of personally curated sommelier-chosen wines tailored to each customer’s palate and an absolute focus on eliminating hassle for buyers.  You sign up for a monthly subscription at one of three tiers, where a 2-bottle pack costs $36, $50 or $65 depending on your level of choice; you can also pick 4- or 6-bottle packs if you wish, which come with corresponding volume discounts.  But these are not just random bottles, and they are not the same for everyone:  when you subscribe on wyneyc.ca, you fill out a personalized online taste survey for each bottle (which you can later update at will), and wYneYC’s professional winos then pair your monthly selection with your palate preferences.

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Pre-emptive Cork Ratings to salvage some surprise below:  2/10 & 4/10 (Let’s be honest – lots of room to improve here.)

How does your vino get to you?  It’s delivered to your door, within a delivery window and at an address that you pick (Calgary, Airdrie and Cochrane only so far — sorry, High River), at no extra cost.  They even send you a delivery text when your bottles are en route!  If you love a particular bottle and want more of it, you can find and order it on wYneYC’s e-store, set up for subscribers only.  The wines show up with simple tasting cards containing tidbits and food pairing suggestions for each wine.  One of the quirks about running a business like this in Alberta is that it has to be done through a properly licensed retail partner, which in this case is relative newcomer to the Calgary wine scene YYC Liquor, who will hopefully continue to push the envelope on e-commerce going forward.

If you’re like me, you absorbed the above information and your brain immediately asked “I wonder what the online taste preference survey is like?”, followed closely by “I wonder if the wines are any good?”.  I can happily report that I got the chance to give the whole system a whirl, and the answers are “Easy and fun!” and “Oh hells yes.”  I opted for wYneYC’s mid-tier subscription, the $50/month 2-bottle Wine Connoisseur pack, and picked a red and a white for my curated bottles.  For the red survey, I decided to go full-on geeky and see what happened:

 

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Well, this happened.

2012 Corte Gardoni “Le Fontaine” Bardolino

My first ever bottle of Bardolino!  If you’re not familiar with the name, Bardolino is sort of like hipster Valpolicella (and now you know it before it was cool, so you’re complicit).  Like Valpolicella, it’s a region near Verona in northeast Italy that is known for lighter red wines made from blends largely comprised of indigenous grapes Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.  Bardolino is right beside Valpolicella, to the west, located on the eastern shores of Italy’s Lake Garda.  The handy tasting card in my delivery package identified this wine as Corvina, which is 60% right:  the remaining 40% is Rondinella and trace amounts of lesser-known Veneto grapes.

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I immediately noticed two things about this bottle.  First, it was imported into the US market by the wine agent god Kermit Lynch of Berkeley, California, who is probably the world’s most famous wine importer and is the man credited for introducing the New World to a whole host of incredible producers and regions of Old World wine.  Second, it’s from 2012, a relative oddity for what I would generally expect to be an early-drinking crushable sort of red.  Any fears I may have had about it holding up were quickly erased.

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This Bardolino is a drop-dead gorgeous colour, an almost fully transparent garnet-tinged ruby that almost shines to the eye and is the perfect lead-in to an absurdly exuberant nose, still unleashing primary fruit with impunity despite 5 years in a bottle.  Electric red cherry, red currant and plum fruit rocket into the senses, accented by flint and cinnamon spice, practically vibrating with energy.  Light yet strangely mouth-filling in body, the wine adds gravelly earth and iron flavours on the nose, lending gravitas to the bubbly cherry and strawberry fruit and joyous acidity.  Serve this with a slight chill and instantly forget about all your troubles.  This is why you join a club like this.

90 points

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After being highly particular about my red preferences, I opted for a little more leeway with the whites – this is the survey equivalent of “surprise me”:

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And as a result I got:

2015 Chateau du Trignon Cotes du Rhone Blanc

Cotes du Rhone is sort of a catch-all appellation in France’s Rhone Valley, making it a difficult quality indicator:  within that designation you can get everything from secret quality gems to, well, bottles that were shunted into a catch-all for a reason.  This is definitely one of the former.  Most Cotes du Rhone wines are blends of various Rhone-permitted grapes, but Chateau du Trignon skews the other way:  it releases three higher-end CdR whites, each of which is an expression of a single Rhone-centric varietal.  There’s a Viognier, a Marsanne, and then this 100% Roussanne, helpfully identified as such on the front label.  Although the tasting card identifies this bottle as being from the 2014 vintage, I got the 2015 instead, but I suspect the tasting and pairing advice equally applies.

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Roussanne gets its name from the French words “roux” or “rousse”, meaning “red” (but more of a rusty red, like red hair), because of the darkened colour of its skins when it is ripe.  It is best known as the yang to Marsanne’s yin in Northern Rhone white blends such as those from the famed Hermitage region:  it brings acid and verve to the mix, often offset by Marsanne’s breadth and power.  You don’t often see Roussanne left to its own devices in a starring role, particularly in a French wine, but this one gives it centre stage and it carries the production without losing sight of the overall balance necessary for a successful wine.

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Instantly intriguing and enticing aromas conjure up images of spice and ginger, honeysuckle and coconut, white flowers and caraway, like rye bread with jasmine honey.    The wine doesn’t stop there, alternating lashes of acid with a panoply of celeriac, anise, kiwi, salted lime and, yes, rubber boots flavours in a way that keeps you coming back to the glass to find out more.  “Interesting Cotes du Rhone” is far from a given, but this is something far more thoughtful than the standard fare.  If this is representative of what wYneYC is all about, then they are a highly worthwhile add to our local wine culture.  Here’s to more!

89 points

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Mystery wine = fun wine.  Good times, wYneYC.

 

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2 responses

22 06 2017
Matt

Thanks for your review of the Bardolino! I’m proud to represent Gianni Piccoli and his family, the owners of Corte Gardoni. The family can trace their wine growing roots back to the early 1600’s and only grow heirloom grapes native to the region.

If you’d like more information about this or the other craft wines that I represent, email me : matt at barrelselect dot com

22 06 2017
petervetsch

Thanks Matt! I loved the wine – you guys do great work! Thanks for reading!

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