Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Battle of the ‘Boise: Southbrook vs. Downey’s (Framboise challenge) – $14.95 each

At this year’s Toronto Wine and Cheese Show (2006), best sweet fruit wine was won by Downey’s Estate Winery Framboise. “That’s because we didn’t enter ours,” says winemaker Steve Byfield, of the perennial winner in the category, Southbrook Winery; while over at Downey’s those are fightin’ words. We take the battle out of the bottle and into the glass to see who’s Framboise is better. Six tasters weigh in to help me make the decision:

Downey’s Estate Winery Framboise - $14.95 … 14.9% (375ml)
Less sweet than the Southbrook version with higher alcohol, which some tasters claimed was right upfront on both the taste and nose: “the alcohol was very prominent to the wine, it’s the first thing that hit me”. This Framboise is lighter, both in colour and consistency than it’s Southbrook counterpart. Some tasters comments were: “it tastes more like the real thing, like fresh raspberries” and was more “pleasantly pungent”, “truer to the smell of raspberries”. Overall, Downey’s Framboise is lighter in colour, thinner on the palate with more alcohol – but true to what you’d expect a raspberry wine would be like. Final analysis: very good and tasty.

Southbrook Framboise - $14.95 … 14.5% (375 ml)
Definitely sweeter than the Downey’s version, richer in the mouth and a deep red in colour. Southbrook’s Framboise was described as “thicker, almost syrupy”; “definitely a dessert wine”; “I could see pouring this over ice cream, pie, or even cooking with it”. Other comments made were “smooth”, “viscous” and “perfumey”. The lowdown on this wine: fresh raspberries with a sprinkling of sugar on top, and it was consistently ranked sweeter then it’s Downey’s rival.

The final result was 3 – 3 … no clear-cut winner this time round, a sure sign that personal taste always wins. Those who enjoy sweet liked the Southbrook, while those who enjoy lighter flavoured wines enjoyed Downey’s. The good news is that nobody disliked either wine, the panel thought they were both excellent and very enjoyable. I guess it is now up to you to decide … then weigh in with your opinion.

Southbrook Framboise available at the LCBO and the winery - Downey's Framboise available at the winery only.

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