What our wine guy has in his cellar—Pt 1.
Every week I suggest a bottle, but here’s a glimpse of what I do when no one is looking.
Laughing Stock Portfolio 2013 $45
Talk is cheap, and that’s never more true in the sometimes gaping chasm between what wine writers profess to love and what they actually have sitting in their cellar. So to pull back the curtain a bit I thought it worthwhile to give a glimpse into my modest cellar. My guess is that I have about 500 or so bottles with B.C. wines occupying a disproportionate number. This is thanks to two reasons: firstly, our insane taxation system makes buying Burgundy and Bordeaux and Barolo exceedingly painful. And secondly, I like getting in on the ground floor of something—in this case the still nascent B.C. wine industry.
I started socking bottles of Laughing Stock’s flagship wine Portfolio a few years back (I have a a 2006-2013 mini vertical) mostly because when I tasted it, it seemed built for aging in a time when many other B.C. wineries were making very extracted, very rich, flagship wines that might be pleasing on release but, in my estimation, were unlikely to improve over the long haul. And when owner David and Cynthia Enns spoke about what sort of style they loved it wasn’t the big shouldered California Cabs then in vogue but a more nuanced, Bordeaux-style, approach to blend power with finesse.
In the past year I’ve had two occasions to pat myself on the back for my wisdom/luck. The first was at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, where the Enns oversaw a tasting of the 10 vintages of Portfolio. There were many hits and a few not-quites (the 2003 was starting to fade), but overall the quality was astounding and each vintage had a distinct character in the best—I have to say it again—Bordeaux sense of it.
The second occasion was a tasting of aged B.C. wine conducted by the B.C. Wine Institute a few weeks back, an amazing event that ran the gamut from Chardonnay to Cabernet Franc to Bordeaux blends. There were some surprises—the Cabernet Francs was interesting but uninspriring—but for the most part the wines, which came from the likes of Tantalus, Mission Hill, Howling Bluff and Black Hills showed their thoroughbred pedigrees. But it was my note for the 2006 Portfolio that seemed telling: “This is exactly what people want from an aged wine.”
All of this was on my mind this week when the latest edition of Portfolio was released. A bottle is already tucked away in my cellar with its older siblings and while it’s a wonderful wine right now with great red currants in a cedar cigar box sort of vibe, it also has the structure—tannins, intense depth of fruit—that suggest it will improve over the next six to seven years and be a force over the next 10 to 12.