Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Read the thoughts from other tasters, Just Grapes Wine, and Beau Charles.

We attended a tasting last month where the highlight of the night was a 7-year vertical of one of BC’s most celebrated red blends: Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin. Unfortunately, the tasting ended up being an anti-climactic car wreck of unbalanced wines that left us regretting the roughly $350 worth of wine on the table before us.

Firstly, Osoyoos Larose bills itself as “an inspired partnership with a vision to create a world-class Canadian wine from classic Bordeaux varietals”. The goal with this partnership between Groupe Taillan of Bordeaux and Vincor Canada is to produce a BC wine to rival the best of Bordeaux. The price point is proof of this aspiration, and at $45/bottle, it falls into the premium category of BC reds.

I’ve met the winemaker, Pascal Madevon, at prior tasting events, and indeed, he bleeds enthusiasm and passion. He was quick to hand me a shiny, multi-page, full-size pamphlet telling the story of Osoyoos Larose. When tasting the current vintage at these events, the senses are pummelled by big, over-extracted tannins and oak. Yet, most people buy the wine (sold) on the promise that this is built-like-Bordeaux and will be a bottle to lay down and treasure 3-5 years down the road.

Our tasting was startling in it’s outcome. The oldest wines were unbalanced, had lost their fruit, were strangled by mouth-drying tannins, and had unpleasant tertiary flavours such as vegemite, black olives, & leather. (We had to double-check that the 2001 vintage wasn’t accidentally replaced with a 1980′s Italian bottle. No such luck.)

What conclusions can we come to? These wines aren’t yet ready for long-term aging, and are probably best drunk at 5-6 years old. Before that, they’re dominated by their tannins and oak. Past the sweet spot, the wines seem to decline very quickly, likely due to the quality of the fruit and youth of the vines. There is also a lot of greenness & tannins throughout the wines which points to the usual complaint that the growing season is not long enough for the Okanagan to be focusing on Bordeaux varieties.

I’ve seen some pretty decent scores given for these wines (90-92 points), and I think that most reviewers are trusting that the dominant youthfulness of the just-released vintage will mellow out into balance and finesse. We’ve definitely seen that with Bordeaux wines we’ve personally laid down for 5-10 years. The truth of the matter is that the quality is not there yet for these wines to last past the 5-6 year mark. Our advice? Drink (immediately) anything you have from the 01, 02, & 03 vintages; plan to drink the 04, 05 vintages in the coming year; hold the 06 & 07 vintages for a few more years, or drink now with a big, juicy steak and some soda water to restore moisture to your mouth.

Overall, re-evaluate if this is a wine you want to invest money and cellar space in given that it’s not quite ready for prime-time and has a very small window of enjoyment.

Tasting Notes:

2001 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Fully developed on the nose with med+ intensity aromas of spicy dried black fruit, oak, leather & vegemite. On the palate, dry, med+ intense flavours of leather, vegemite, dried black fruit, salt+savoury, with good acidity but drying tannin, and a slightly green long finish. Rating: average, and well past it.

2002 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Developing aromas of black plum and black olive; med intensity. On the palate, lots of intensity, acidity, and high coarse tannins, with flavours of herbaceous mint, black fruit, and black olive. Unpleasantly green through it’s finish. Very unbalanced. Rating: average, can keep, but with all the greenness, it’s not going to get any better.

2003 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Developing med+ intensity aromas of ripe sweet black fruit, leather, plum. On the palate, moderate intensity flavours of tart red fruit mixed with floral, med+ acidity, and med+ coarse tannins. Finish is spicy and of med+ length. Rating: average, the thinnest of the palates; can’t see how this will improve.

2004 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Developing, moderate intensity aromas of meat/game, earth, black fruit, smoke, and herbs. On the palate, a full-bodied wine with balanced acidity and ripe tannins, and flavours of lush black fruit, plum, and oak. Rating: good, ready to drink but can keep.

2005 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Developing, med+ intensity aromas of oak, toast, and black fruit. Slightly corked. On the palate, med+ acidity and high drying tannins, with flavours of oak, black fruit and olives. Oak really dominates the fruit. Rating: corked!

2006 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Developing med+ intensity aromas of sweet black fruit, oak, and green pepper. On the palate, dominated by med+ coarse tannins. Flavours of sweet black fruit, although very hollow on the mid-palate. Rating: average, needs time.

2007 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Brighter in appearance than all the previous vintages. Youthful, moderate aromas of black fruit, oak, and some medicine/herbaceousness. On the palate, exceedingly high, coarse tannins. Very powerful oak, hiding the black fruit and licorice flavours. Rating: average, needs time.

8 comments to Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Wine truths

“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.”
by John Maynard Keynes

Wine Ratings

★☆☆☆☆ - Poor quality. Avoid. Save your money. Between 80-84 points.

★★☆☆☆ - Average quality or poor value. Between 84-88 points. Some expensive wines are downgraded for bad value.

★★★☆☆ - Good. Between 88-92 points. Or a good value on the lower end of the point scale.

★★★☆☆ - Excellent quality. Between 92-96 points. Or a cheap yet good quality wine which is excellent value.

★★★☆☆ - Outstanding, best examples in the world. Between 96 and 100 points. A perfect wine.