2017 Monte Creek Winery “Hands Up Red” (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $21.95 (750ml bottle)
Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a bit of research on the origins and recent history of the BC wine industry. This research led to an extended video interview with venerable BC wine historian John Schreiner, something I’ll be publishing in segments over the next few months.
Throughout this research I’ve been reading a lot about the many hybrid grape varieties that preceded the Vitis vinifera plantings of the late 80s and early 90s, and I suppose that gave me a hankering to go back and taste some hybrids. What with 99.9% of the wines I taste/drink being 100% Vinifera, with the notable exception of Vidal Icewine, it’s relatively rarely I taste wines from hybrid varieties these days. Call it dreamy-eyed nostalgia if you wish, but there’s a certain rusticity in hybrids that I find strangely appealing to this day.
The interspecific hybrid (a cross of another hybrid, Landot [Landal x Villard Blanc] and a winter hardy selection of the native Vitis riparia), Frontenac Noir makes up 22% of this red blend, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon making 37% and 25% respectively, according to the Monte Creek website. Now, that doesn’t quite add up to 100%, so I’m not sure as to the actual blend.
Nevertheless, this is a really enjoyable autumnal wine, and just the thing to be sipping away on around a fire-pit or at a socially-distanced barbecue, outdoors being the key to socializing in these troubled times. It’s ripe, rich and full-bodied, packed with gorgeous red/black berry/cherry fruit, some light oak spice, and some curiously fascinating perfumed (and slightly “wild”) aromatics that I put down to the Frontenac, as I haven’t ever experienced such a bouquet from Merlot or Cab wines previously. Many tend to put down hybrids as being a little rough-around-the-edges, but partnered with these two noble grapes, the Frontenac plays a strong and synergistic supporting role, giving a curious but most appealing character to this bottling. The tannins are supple, but present, with some nice acid balancing out the ripe berry fruit.
It’s a solidly decent colder season tipple, that’s for sure, and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different in their reds.
(Three and a half apples out of a possible five)
Monte Creek are represented in Ontario by Perigon Beverage Group.
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was a fun little tipple.