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Cottage Country Finds

July 31, 2005

In my quest for the perfect lake wine, I picked up two new wines at the Kenora LCBO during my stay there this weekend. Although I have to confess that I ended up carting them back to Winnipeg with me, so I can’t speak for their “lake” suitability.

To me, the perfect lake wine should be cheap (so you can share a lot) and easy to drink. It should also drink well if you chill it (more of an issue for reds), and it should be interesting enough to keep your attention for more than one glass. All prices here include taxes, something Manitoba wine stores should consider doing.

Cat Pee on a Gooseberry Bush Sauvignon Blanc (2004) $11.95

I’ve heard of this wine, but have never had the chance to try it. At $11.95 for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I thought it was worth a shot. It’s made by Coopers Creek, a fairly reputable winemaker in those parts. I’ve heard good things about their “Sally Cat” Pinot Noir. And the price caught my eye, so I decided to give it a try.

Ultimately, it’s a bit disappointing. The nose is nice, lots of crispness. No cat pee, but a lot of gooseberries. In the mouth, there’s a hint of minerals and some faint herbal overtones, but that’s about it. It’s bone dry, shows a bit of varietal characteristics, but I’ve tasted better and cheaper Sauvignon Blancs from Chile, France and South Africa.

This might be worth bringing to the lake, but don’t expect anyone to rave about it. You’ll get a few chuckles from the name, and the screwcap is a nice touch (I always forget to bring corkscrews to the lake), but you can do better than this.

French Rabbit Merlot (2004) $12.95

Wow! My first ever TetraPak wine. A litre for $12.95 is a good deal, and the light packaging makes it a perfect “lake” wine. No need to fuss around with corkscrews here! I hope this trend catches on, as TetraPaks are a lot easier to cart around than bottles are. This is important when the cabin you’re staying at has fifty-three steep steps leading down to the dock.

It’s a young wine, and it shows. There isn’t a lot of character here. But there is a lot of nice light (very light) chocolate and berry flavours. No tannins to speak of, so I wouldn’t pair this with a big steak. But drop it in the fridge for twenty minutes and serve it up on the dock.

My only problem with this wine is the post-drink storage. According to the back of the box, you’re supposed to squeeze it until all of the air flows out and then cap it. I tried that and created a miniature eruption of French Merlot, which is not so appealing. You can solve this problem by ignoring their instructions, or making sure storage isn’t an issue.

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