|Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park|
It didn't seem that long ago when having a drink while camping meant cracking open a six pack or passing around a flask of 'camp scotch'.
It seems that my friends and I have all become a bit more refined - or at least we think we are. During my last camping trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta with my three friends, we drank mostly wine, especially when the day's activities were done and we were sitting around in the mosquito tent, relaxing.
I, admittedly, contributed to the wine focus by bringing along wine tasting info based on the WSET 2 tasting sheet I used for my course. Just Google "WSET tasting sheet" to find out what we used to taste the wines. The tasting sheet is extremely useful because it gives everyone the same vocabulary when you taste something in a wine. Sure, there really isn't apple or peach in a glass of white wine, but there are flavours and aromas that are similar to apple or peach and that's what you are trying to figure out.
One member of our group brought 3 bottles of Pinot Gris. I really enjoy a good bottle of Pinot Gris, especially when it is crisp, fresh, and fruity, and has those apple, pear and/or peach flavours along with a bit of honey. On a recent trip back east, I made the mistake of ordering a glass of Pinot Grigio (my wife didn't feel like wine for this meal). Pinot Grigio is the same grape as Pinot Gris but it is much more neutral in style. The wine I had was flat and watery and tasted nothing like the wonderful Pinot Gris's that I have had, such as Fort Beren's Pinot Gris.
All of the Pinot Gris's that we had at camp were good - the had some complexity, were balanced and expressive as a Pinot Gris. What made a difference, though, was the next day.
Pfaff Pinot Gris from Alsace still tasted good the next day. The other two completely lost their fruitiness and we were left with a harshness and acidity that was not balanced. They went from good wines to almost unacceptable.
Summerhill Organic Pinot Gris as I am usually quite impressed by their wines. However, this one was just ok when fresh and was actually unacceptable after a day on ice. But the Pfaff, I would definitely buy again!
Our go to place in Jasper was the Jasper Wine Cellar. The owner and other employees that we met were great to talk to and they did suggest some good wines - and we did some selections are our own.
Niel Joubert 2014 Pinotage had the same hints of coffee but not quite so strong. Pinotage is such a full bodied, flavourful wine and I was so pleased to have another really good one. This one was less in your face which made it a bit more pleasant to drink.
Chateau Meric Bordeaux. I was truly excited about this wine (~$25) as it was from the Graves region and I had had a nice Chateau Callac a few weeks ago, also from Graves - so imagine my disappointment when we opened this bottle and tasted a wine that was watery! The aroma had been a bit promising with dark fruits and tobacco on the nose but when tasting the wine, the fruit taste disappeared and the wine just seemed to taste like water and tannins. It was a huge disappointment. I'm not sure if there was a fault or if it was a bad year but all four of us were unimpressed by the wine.
Chateau de Courteillac actually had the type of wine (Merlot-Cab Sauv) on the label, which is kind of unusual. However, the wine tasted very nice - plummy with red and black fruits and a nice tobacco hint with medium tannins. It was sooo much better than the Chateau Meric!
Layer Cake Zinfandel. No, this isn't your grandma's White Zinfandel, that hideous, candy-like embarrassment to rosé. This Zinfandel is deep red, rich, full bodied and tastes wonderful. Fun fact - in Italy, it is usually referred to as Primitive, not Zinfandel. There were medium tannins and just the right amount of acidity as we tasted berries, black cherries, and pepper. It was a bold wine and I will definitely buy this one again. I would rate it as a very good wine.
Despite the fact that we were drinking out of lucite glasses, we enjoyed tasting - and drinking - this wide variety of wines of the week that we were camping. It really added to the experience to swish and swirl the wines (not a lot of spitting with this group) and being thoughtful tasters made this a very rewarding experience. I am much more likely to remember the wines that were great and the wines that were awful after tasting - dare I say - mindfully. It also adds to the overall enjoyment of drinking wine. Finally, it sure makes camping a lot of fun!