As I’ve said in this space before, I rarely read columns by other wine writers. Before I try a wine, I don’t want my opinions or impressions to be coloured by what others columnists think, or like, or don’t like about a particular beverage.
But when I got a notification a few months ago from The Globe and Mail (I subscribe to that publication’s e-newsletter) and wine critic Beppi Crosariol heartily endorsed the 2010 Quails’ Gate Chardonnay, and said it was only available in British Columbia, AND I was planning to be in Victoria just a couple of weeks later — well, as you might understand, I broke my ‘rule’ and read all that Crosariol had penned about the wine:
"Full-bodied with lemon curd, pineapple and subtle oak, this silky white is well-balanced with fresh acidity and a subtle, smoky-yeasty tang. Think roast chicken or butter-poached salmon."
As I said, it appeared he quite liked it.
And so did I, once I bought a bottle and sipped it on the island.
But I only had the chance to have one glass (it’s a long story and the details are boring), and I was desperate to have more. So imagine my delight when I discovered, at the Winnipeg Wine Festival (and after sampling it there once again), that the Quail’s Gate Chard was coming to Manitoba Liquor Marts! I’d heard (only heard, mind you, through the grapevine, but I really trust the source of the information) that some of the private wine stores in this province had stocked it, but their price was $29.99. With Liquor Marts carrying it, the price (because, according to this same source, Quails’ Gate wants the price to be fairly uniform across the country) would be $18.99!
As soon as I found out there was some in Brandon — the Corral Centre had it first, so that’s where I headed — I bought three bottles of it so I could indulge in it once more. (For those of you who believe I’m a lush, a qualifier here — I was NOT going to drink them all at the same time.)
And it didn’t disappoint. Over the course of the three bottles, I enjoyed all the qualities Crosariol outlined above. What was interesting, though, was that, probably depending on what I’d had to eat that day, or the particular circumstances in which I was consuming the different bottles, it alternated between being delicately oaky, as Crosariol suggested, and really quite strongly oaky. So just another of the vagaries of wine tasting — one that continually makes it fun and exciting. (And FYI, the Quails’ Gate Chard is now available at both the Tenth and Vic and Corral Centre locations.)
Anyway, at the Winnipeg Wine Fest, I also had a chance to taste the Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc — a very nice, crisp, snappy, fruit-forward sipper. Again, this one sells for $18.99, and it’s good value for that price, too. The Chenin is different and fun — my friend Charles, who’s a Chenin Blanc fan, should definitely give this one a try.
Both my husband and I were also enamoured with the Quails’ Gate Merlot. I jotted down that it was "very, very nice — smoother than some of other ones (we’d tasted at the Festival), but still with some bite." A lot of folks like Merlot because it can be fairly soft, and this one certainly is. But while it sounds completely contradictory, I like a Merlot that gives me a kick in the taste buds before it settles down and smoothes out. I got that with the Quails’ Gate — it sells for $22.99.
For Pinot Noir fans, this year, Quails’ Gate has a wonderful treat at a reasonable price. The details are what matter in this situation, so here’s the story:
Most every year, Quails’ Gate produces a Stewart Family Reserve Pinot as well as their mainstream Pinot. But for the 2010 vintage, the company did NOT produce a Stewart Family Reserve because they didn’t feel the grapes were high-quality enough for a product that sells for $45 a bottle. So they took grapes from the vineyard that usually generates berries for the mainstream Pinot and blended them with the grapes from the vineyard that would normally produce the upper-end Stewart Family Reserve Pinot.
BUT — and this is the great part — the end result is this Quails’ Gate Pinot blend ended up being a semi-reserve wine that they’re offering as their 2010 mainstream Pinot Noir for $22.99!
I tried it at the Winnipeg Wine Festival and it was wonderful. I can’t urge you strongly enough to pick up a bottle if you’re a Pinot fan. If I can snag a few bottles — like a half-dozen — I’m definitely going to do so.
Anyway, the bottom line is Quails’ Gate is TOP-of-the-line! And it’s Canadian to boot. There are plenty of options available, as outline above. So enjoy a home-grown quality beverage today.