Friday, 30 June 2017

d'Arenberg The Bonsai Vine McLaren Vale 2011

As a youngster, growing up next to the sea on the lower north shore of Quebec, it’s safe to say that wine was never something I gave much thought about.  I did not dream of the rolling hills of Tuscany or thought about how wine was even made.   For sure, I had big dreams of wanting to see the world and travel, but I never thought it would be driven by food and wine culture, which is why I travel now.  So, many people have asked me how the daughter of fishermen parents found a passion and love for wine.  About ten years ago, I visited a friend’s house for dinner, and they were hosting a blind wine tasting.   That was when my passion, some would say obsession, for wine all started.

Concealed in brown paper bags were 6 bottles of wine, and the only information we were given was that it was all from the same producer.   Of course, I knew nothing about wine and thought, “Doesn’t it all taste the same?”   I reluctantly participated in the blind tasting and guessed my way through the whole thing.  Although I could note some subtle differences amongst them, nothing really struck me as amazing…..except for one bottle.  I just remember taking that first sip and everything around me sort of stopped.  I still remember the depth of flavours, the round mouthfeel, the elegance of the wine that continued on the palate long after it was gone. What WAS that?!?! I never knew wine could taste so good.  The only wine I ever tasted before that was an old bottle of St. George’s – a family favourite saved for special occasions.  I had not realized it at the time, but I had been bitten by the wine bug, and since then my curiosity and interest has never slowed down.  I immediately began to educate myself.  I read as many books and wine mags as I could, registered in courses and every future vacation destination stemmed from that one bottle of wine – the 2001 Bonsai Vine from Australian producer d’Arenberg. 

Things came full circle in 2015 when I met Chester Osborne – chief winemaker of d’Arenberg.  He was as charming, eccentric and colourful as you would imagine him to be and I spoke to him about the Bonsai Vine.  He said it was the first time he had ever met someone whose passion for wine had started from one his wines. That meeting with him was the coolest thing for me, and I am so fortune to have had the opportunity to meet and chat with him. 

Since that fateful dinner back in 2007, I had tried to find The Bonsai Vine everywhere but with no success. Even when I lived in Australia, I scoured every wine shop and it was like it had completely disappeared!  Imagine my excitement when ten years later, I saw the Bonsai Vine as a new release at the SAQ. I swear I heard angels sing. OK, just kidding! In all honestly though, there was a lot of excitement as I swiped few a bottles to bring home with me.

The big question would be if the wine tasted as good as I remembered it to be.  Though the wine would be more or less the same, my palate had certainly changed. Read my tasting note below to get  my impressions. 

That's Jim Barry (Jim Barry Wines- Clare Valley) in the back - best photobomb ever!

Everyone in wine industry has a story about how it all started for them and my journey is only beginning.  The more I learn, I realize the less I know.  It’s crazy because the world of wine is so intense, so complex and constantly changing.  There comes no shame in trying to better myself through studying, blogging, or attempting new projects. I am so grateful I was able to discover my passion in life, all because of d’Arenberg’s  Bonsai Vine.  It's as delicious as it was 10 years ago, and all the more meaningful.

D’Arenberg The Bonsai Vine 2011

Grapes: Grenache ( 49%), Mourvèdre (45%), Shiraz (6%).  
SAQ: 13097219
Price: $26.95
Agent: Vintrinsic

The vines in which the grapes grow are very small for their age, and their tiny shoots give them a bonsai tree appearance - hence the name of the wine.  With a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Shiraz, this wine has excellent concentration and intensity of flavours. 

There are beautiful aromas of dark cherries, plum, red current and a touch of spice.  On the medium bodied, round palate there is an excellent concentration of cherry, strawberries, and fig balanced with a nice, fresh acidity.  The oak is well integrated, and the grippy tannins add texture and fun. The long and complex finish is really enjoyable. Lots of intense flavor elements while at the same time fresh, giving it excellent drinkability.  Drink now or within the next 5-6 years.