A Van Westen Kitchen Tasting
Along with a few other “usual wine suspects”, Margaret kindly invited me to an informal tasting of Van Westen wines in her Vancouver kitchen. Her brother Robert, the winemaker, was in town and had brought some “treats” with him. I had previously only tasted the Van Westen white blends at a crowded wine event so it was certainly an improvement to be able to taste them in a focused setting with the winemaker.
For the hour I was able to be there, I happily learned about three wine facts per minute as I listened to Robert in conversation about topics such as: canopy management, cane pruning, the tough 2013 vintage for pinot noir, the effect of zinc on vines, exploding bottles caused from flawed glass moulds & “hens & chicks”. And in case you were wondering, “hens & chicks” are not a biodynamic related use of poultry in the vineyard but a metaphorical description of an unwanted development in a grape bunch whereby it contains berries of different sizes and levels of maturity. Normal-sized, seeded berries are the “hens,” and small, seedless berries are the “chicks”.
In all, a very interesting time with good company and generous hosts.
My notes on the wines:
2013 Viognier Barrel Sample
A kernel of honeyed, aromatic, perfumed fruit flavour wrapped in “gauzy” impressions of yeast, ongoing malolactic fermentation & lemon minerality.
Classic Viognier grape expression, that delicate but persistent combination of stone fruits and Spring flowers. Excellent clarity of flavour.
2012 Pinot Noir VD pre-release bottle
The pinot noir is a collaboration with Tom DiBello and this is the second vintage. The end flavours and finish are still assembling but I found the first half, a distinctive combination of bigger-than-most focused, clear fruit flavours (mostly black fruits & dark cherries), combined with an especially elegant & silky texture. I look forward to seeing how it develops over the next few years.
The last wine was the “V” 2009, a blend of .4% Petite Verdot, 1% Cab Sauv, 5.6% Malbec, 25% Cab Franc, and 68% Merlot. Begins with a sweep of fresh cherry flavours, bramble fruit and some plum. Complex flavours end with relatively soft tannins and a very long finish. Should develop further over the next three to five years.