Wine Maven – March/April 2013

Indulgence ’13

Join edmonton’s top chefs, distinctive Alberta food producers, and the best VQA wineries in Canada at Indulgence13, Monday, June 11 at the Delta Edmonton South. Tickets are $60, available after May 1 from the Junior League of Edmonton. Visit for more information.

Scrubby Rise

ScrubbyRiseWirra’s Wirra’s popular Scrubby Rise sports a whimsical new label, by Australian contemporary artist Andrew Baines, known for surrealist Rene Magritte-inspired installations of men in suits and bowler hats on Aussie beaches. The wines are similarly light-hearted. The Scrubby Rise white is a pale straw colour with appealing gooseberry, lime, tropical fruit and orange blossom aromas. Crisp, light, and easy-going, this could become a fridge door wine, ready to be opened for a glass while cooking dinner or when neighbours drop by. The fruit is sourced from the Fleurieu, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale regions — mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with a bit of Viognier, responsible for the lovely florals.

Scrubby Rise Red is a juicy Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend with a smidge of Petit Verdot contributing subtle violet aromas. Attractive white pepper, red fruit and some attractive leafy notes keep the wine’s nose fresh and vibrant. Medium-bodied, with a soft texture and just enough acidity to keep things interesting. Drink with casual foods or on its own, it’s a versatile wine.

Taste of Argentina

The Edmonton Jazz Society offers the popular fundraiser Taste of Argentina sometime in early May. Enjoy fabulous Malbecs, Shiraz and Cabernet from producers such as Luigi Bosca along with entertainment, silent auction, lots of good stuff. Visit or for ticket info.

There is history in a bottle of Wynns

WynnsJohnRiddoch“Wynns has the largest holdings of Coonawarra vineyards on the Riddoch estate,” says Sue Hodder, winemaker. “John Riddoch was a visionary. He was the first to recognize the quality of the soil for grapes and planted vines on the best sites. He built the (now iconic Coonawarra landmark) railway siding to bring the products to market.”

Her inspiration? “The wines made in the 1960s. When we tasted the 50 year lineup of Black Label Cabernet those were the wines that stood out — medium bodied, with fresh bright fruit. The wines of the ‘70s and ‘80s were too light. What we look for is moderate alcohol, ripe flavours, more supple tannins. We don’t want (and our vineyards don’t produce) hotness or pruniness.”

In order to achieve that year after year, Wynns has embarked on a major vineyard overhaul— replacing broken down trellises, cutting back dead wood, and taking out non-productive vines, then replanting with more appropriate root stocks and clones. It’s not work for those in a hurry. It takes a while for a vine to revive after being cut back, and large trial plantings take several vintages before showing quality fruit.

Is there a burden of history? Sue takes a long-term view.

“I see myself as a custodian. I have to make sure that the Sue Hodder era will be as good as the ‘60s and the ‘90s.”

Wynns Black Label Cab (the most collected wine in Australia) is great value, easily found under $25. The 2007 has a graceful maturity with savoury black fruit flavours.

John Riddoch Cab, always elegant and long-lived, is made from a selection of the best fruit in excellent vintages. The 2006, available in some stores, displays an attractive tension with firm tannins, floral aromas and lovely dark fruit flavours. The 2008, slightly fuller, reflecting the warmer vintage, possesses spicy flavours of dark cherry and blackcurrant, with a woodsy, cedary background surrounded by velvety tannins.

Il Palagio

Michael Green of Wineboy Imports has brought in the oil and honey from Il Palagio, Sting’s estate near Florence. The oil is certified organic, extra virgin, and pretty tasty— a typically soft Tuscan oil with a sweet aftertaste, ideal with white beans or braised greens.