2003 Jackson-Triggs Proprieters’ Grand Reserve Meritage (Okanagan)

Is it just me or does the full names of some wines seem to stretch two to three pages in width? Well this long named wine (and we need to include the whole name to properly define it) is one of wines Mrs.CWG brought back for me over a year ago during her worldly travels. Why it may seem strange to an outsider to see the Canadian Wine Guy requiring his better half to retrieve a Canadian wine via traveling as opposed to me just walking down to the local vintages section, it is not strange, it is simply very difficult to get Okanagan wines in Ontario (while it must be said the same is true in British Columbia in respect to Ontario wines). While the Niagara wine route has some geographical recognition, the Okanagan Valley for most is a question mark. Nestled into the interior of the rocky mountains in British Columbia, the wine region extends from the Okanagan Lake in and around Kelowna all the way south to the border of Washington State and the Osoyoos Lake region. The region boasts almost 75 wineries, many of which have had wines win or be recognized on the international scene. Included in this recognition, if not leading the charge has been the Jackson-Triggs Winery. Canada’s largest winery has presence in both the Niagara and Okanagan regions with their Okanagan operation located in the southern portion of the valley near Osoyoos. While they have been in Niagara for just over 23 years, their presence in British Columbia is much less experienced yet their short time in the region has led the winery to some high accolades.

Okanagan Jackson-Triggs has three labels plus one “terroir” brand, starting from the entry level Proprietors’ Selection to the intermediate Proprietors’ Reserve all the way to the more selective small quantity Grand Reserves. The wine we are reviewing today is their Bordeaux style Meritage from the high end Grand Reserve collection. The wine blends what most consider to be the five traditional Bordeaux grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Somehow in recent years the Carmenere grape has been banished to the sidelines and ignored from “Bordeaux” clarets! The 2003 is simply not purchasable anywhere in Toronto, and as such Mrs.CWG had to bring it in from BC on one of her many trips in 2006. We can buy the 2004 now in select LCBO’s but not the 2003. While I will be giving the 2004 a shot, if the 2003 is any indication, I expect that it will need to be cellared for 5 to 8 years more before being truly ready to drink. With that…. on to the tasting!

The decanting produced a very simple purple colour which surprised me with it’s extended time in oak (18 or so months), generally I have found this alone tends to soften the colour away from the “grape juice” look. The initial nose on this was strong berries, with oak in the mix. Upon swirling and getting a good sniff the berry smell (raspberry and/or strawberry simply too hard to discern) was firmly entrenched. The initial slurps did nothing to tone down the berry flavours. After several sips the true complexity of the wine began to come through, hints of vanilla and strawberry jam made for an interesting collage. The oak and tannins soon took over. The tannins did not soften over time and were very abrupt even towards the end of the second glass and the oak seemed to get a tad heavier instead of smoother, which I found to be odd. This wine in my viewpoint is simply not ready to drink yet, it is too young. I am very glad that Mrs.Cwg bought two bottles, as I am tagging the second bottle as a drink in 2010+. Odds are good with the effort put into the wine and the quality of the grapes that this wine will soften while not taking away any complexity as it ages. That will surely lead to a fine wine if you have the patience.

For now though, this wine is no more then an 85.
Mrs.CWG says

“Make sure you mark this for later consumption!”

2003 Jackson-Triggs Proprieters’ Grand Reserve Meritage


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