The Event: Southbrook/Lailey Chardonnay Vertical Tasting
The Venue: Ontario Wine Society at U of T Faculty Club
The Target Audience: OWS members and guests. Fifty people attended.
The Availability/Catalogue: we tasted eight wines, four from Lailey
(2000-2006) and four from Southbrook (1997-2000). These are wines from two
different wineries, but using the same grape source (Lailey Vineyards) and
the same winemaker, Derek Barnett (for vintage 2000, he made the Southbrook
Chardonnay but did not bottle it). Both Derek and Bill Redelmeier
(Southbrook) commented on the wines. All wines were basically treated the
same way: French oak, barrel fermentation, barrel aging, and malo-lactic
The Quote: "Lailey Vineyards' chardonnay grapes have been growing since
1973, and they have achieved Old Vine status. But with the 2003 and 2005
vintages, a lot of the old vines died [Lailey lost 85% of all their vines in
2005], but they are being replaced."
The Wines: we began with some wines at the reception, mostly off-dry, such
as a Chardonnay Musque (too sweet), Pelee Island, Calamus, DeSousa Vidal,
etc, to a total of 9 wines. My fave - and driest - was the Hillebrand 2005
Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Aged. Here were the wines tasted; we did them all
blind (although by taste and sight it was pretty easy to figure out what the
years were; the best comparison was with the two 2000 wines as they came
from the same vineyard). We tasted them in the following order (and I was
able to guess them all except for two which I had reversed - I even managed
to distinguish between the two 2000 bottles. Write me and I'll tell you how
I did it):
* Lailey Chardonnay 2006 (not yet released, coming to Vintages in September
2008, $29.95): muted nose but full flavours, some acidity showing but not
yet balanced. Fresh fruit. QPR: 88.
* Lailey Chardonnay 2004 ($39.95, 65 cases made): good nose, toast and
butter, a bit shrill or bitter on the finish, suggesting more food than
sipping. QPR: 89.
* Southbrook Chardonnay 2000 ($33.95): new oak lends butter and
butterscotch, rich, full, voluptuous, balanced. QPR: 90.
* Lailey Chardonnay 2000 ($39.95): mute nose, good mouth feel, longer
length, some finishing acid demands food. Young at heart. No new oak. QPR:
* Lailey Chardonnay 2002 ($39.95): yellow sight, some age showing, buttery,
developing well, balance, overall a good wine. QPR: 91.
* Southbrook Chardonnay 1997 (magnum, n/a): gold sight, old, marmalade (some
said madeirized, and that could be with some bottles), chunky. QPR: 85.
* Southbrook Chardonnay 1998 (magnum, n/a): well-rounded and balanced,
off-dry smoothness, integrated, overripe tropicality, high alcohol, sort of
like California. QPR: 92. (my fave)
* Southbrook Chardonnay 1999 (magnum, n/a): cream, good length and detail,
an elegant wine, suggests food, a bit perfumed in that typical Ontario
taste. QPR: 88.
The Food: buns, polenta parcels and fish cakes to start, followed by penne
in a cheese and cream sauce.
The Downside: attendance was lower than I expected, given the price and the
quality of the wines, but I heard that some members just don't like white
The Upside: a great chance to taste these wines - verticals and commonalties
are hard to find any more in the local wine scene.
The Contact Person: www.ontariowinesociety.com
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 91.