Wayne Gretzky Estates Meritage 2006

At the fairly ritzy SAQ Sélection on boul. De Maisonneuve Ouest Saturday afternoon, I put the bottle of Osoyoos-Larose I’d gone there to buy in my card… and then I noticed a pitiful clump of neglected bottles nearby. What? One of Canada’s best known sportsmen had produced a wine? What the hell? The capsules were dinged up, the back labels all had French language labels hastily applied, peeling already, with typefaces that didn’t match anything; underneath were labels that appeared to have been designed for US export. The URL on the back didn’t work (it’s outdated), there were still more slapped-on labels talking about a charitable foundation… ugh, what a mess.Of course, I immediately put back the prized bottle of Osoyoos-Larose and bought this wine instead. After all, Wayne Gretzky, eh?So: how is it? Fairly ordinary looking in the glass, the nose offers up simple, attractive, cherry-berry flavors with just a hint of oak and/or glue; I’m not sure which. In the mouth, you get a somewhat thin, somewhat fake wine with body that seems largely derived from alcohol with maybe a little bit of residual sugar, not extract; there really isn’t much by the way of flavor here, but at least what little you get isn’t bad, especially not compared to the Jackson-Triggs merlot from last week. With some aeration, it improves a bit to the point where voilá, you’ve got a decent pizza wine: little red fruits, some smoky oak, decent acidity, and a good enough finish. Not too shabby! Overpriced by Californian standards, it didn’t seem that expensive in a Canadian context. I’d be interested to see how their current wines are faring; there could be some potential here for a exceptional sub-$20 wine in the future.No. 99 Estates Winery
Price: C$17.99 (US $17)
Closure: Synthetic cork