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Thursday, August 23, 2012

TASTING: Benjamin Bridge 2004 sparklers vs. Cristal 2004, at Canoe

1. The Date and Time: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 2 PM to 4 PM
The Event: A comparative tasting of Benjamin Bridge sparklers with fine
Champagne, plus an introduction to Versado Malbec (Argentina).
The Venue: Canoe
The Target Audience: selected wine writers and sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: The champagnes are available in Ontario, the
Nova was just released, the Versado is coming next March 2013, but there is
no word on the Benjamin Bridge which are currently available in Nova Scotia.
The Quote/Background: Peter Gamble, formerly head of VQA in Ontario, is now
consulting on wines for Benjamin Bridge in NS, and has a winery in Argentina
for a Malbec planting. He led the seminar.
The Wines: First, we had a Nova 7 while we chatted. Then there was a blind
tasting, with at least one champagne and two Benjamin Bridges. I was able to
identify the Roederer Cristal 2004 (so obvious, who couldn't?) in glass
number three. I thought maybe the first wine could have been the Benjamin
Bridge Brut Reserve 2004 Late Disgorgement LD (seven years on the yeast
lees). But it could also have been a Champagne, possibly NV. The second wine
was definitely a Bridge. The fourth wine was also a Bridge, but it was
slightly better in taste with more yeast complexity. There were only two
tech sheets for the Bridge wines, so I reasoned that there were only two
Bridge sparklers. The big question was: how many champagnes were there?
Peter is tricky enough that he could have introduced a third Bridge, the
2004 Blanc de Noirs. But I was lazy, so I went with the simple - the first
wine was a mystery, the second was the Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2004,
the third wine was the Cristal 2004, and the fourth wine was the LD 2004. I
scored three out of four correctly.
Peter Gamble's winery Versado Estate, with his partner Ann Sperling, has 8
hectares, with 3 planted with Malbec (1920 start) and Tempranillo. His
Versado Estate Old Vine Malbec 2010 Mendoza was tarry even at this early
stage, and showed massive depth and development. The Reserva 2009 is even
better, but then it has had a year longer in aging, integrating the oak
carefully. Both need more time. In fact this was its first showing outside
Argentina - the wines will be coming to Vintages in late March 2013.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Roederer Cristal 2004, $286.95
-Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2004 Late Disgorgement LD, $89.50
-Versado Estate Malbec Reserva 2009 Mendoza, $60 March 2013 Vintages

***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 - 90 in Quality/Price Rating
-Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, $25 LCBO - just released at Vintages. Sparkling
Moscato wine from several different muscat varieties, 8.5% ABV.
-Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2004, $74.50
-David Léclapart L'Apôtre Blanc de Blanc 2005, $134 (grower's champagne)
-Versado Estate Old Vines Malbec 2010 Mendoza, $25 March 2013 Vintages

The Food: bread and water
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.


1 comment:

Craig Pinhey said...

Good story Dean. In Hali we only had the two BB's and The Cristal. It was super close. I preferred the Cristal but, not being familiar with that wine, I thought it was Ben Bridge LD. Most people preferred the BB Brut.


Craig Pinhey
Wine Access National Tasting Panel Member
New Brunswick Telegraph Journal Beverage Columnist
CBC Radio's Shift Sommelier
TAPS Magazine Beer Columnist
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