Stockings and high heels make a lot of sense around Pride, so the marketing team was wise to jump on that bandwagon with a special promotion in early July. Even the name made good sense and likely struck a chord with the trannies. Though whether that could pry them off the vodka is another matter.
I've avoided this wine for a year or more but curiosity finally got to me: what does a mass market VQA wine at $11.95 taste like? While researching an article on Cellared in Canada wines (our bottom end plonk) I learned from Peller Estates winemaker Heidi Montgomery that consistency of taste profile and "easy drinking" are a must at the bottom end of the market. She said that after taking delivery of the bulk wines from abroad and preparing to blend them with Ontario grapes, "we then follow certain formulations in order to keep our taste profile the same – fruity, soft tannins, no vegetal notes."
It seems like Strut is following that playbook as well, only with VQA product. The white wine equivalent of soft tannins in reds is a rounder mouthfeel and a bit of sweetness - delicately austere, minerally and acidic just doesn't work at this end of the market. A Vincor insider told me the brand is doing well and hinted that it was making money even though the wines are below the price the Wine Council of Ontario's president suggests as minimum. For the CIC article I wrote last year, Hilary Dawson said the minimum profitable price for all-Ontario wines would be "12-13 dollars," and added that "we cannot make wine under $10." It could be Vincor's economies of scale being put to work - and both Vincor and fellow Ont. heavyweight Peller Estates also offer some VQA wines at the $10 mark.
A little bit alcoholic on the nose, and there's not much fruit. Vanilla butterscotch notes that even smell sweet. On the palate it's fairly full and slightly disjointed, with the alcohol again being evident. Definitely sweet though not too fruity. All my guinea pigs commented on the sweetness and all found it excessive. I see wood chips and sugar bags beside the tanks...
Strut Risque Rose
Very pink, and very fruity nose of strawberries and some cherry. Quite full on the palate, which has a decidedly sweet edge. Acidity is only moderate and it's verging on round mouthfeel but there is a little hint of earthiness to save it from total fruit juice. And they've definitely achieved the CIC goal of no vegetal or green notes that is a must for mass market success. For what it is, it seems to me it delivers. My testers were more favourable about this one too.
The bubbly entry on the Strut catwalk loses the stockinged legs and ho heels of its still sisters, but the relative elegance of the restrained label is marred by a name that falls flat. At $16.95 it’s more expensive than the still wines, but it’s good. Visually the bubbles are intermittent and varying in size (vs. tiny and continuous in good champagnes). It’s very zesty and bubbly on the palate. Flavours all round are muted and there’s some biscuit/yeast. There is a sweetness, but it’s not overdone and it’s more evident towards the finish. Acidity could be a little higher but it’s pretty clean and fresh and there’s a nice fullness to the mouthfeel, gentle hints of fruitiness and absolutely no cloying notes on the finish. It's all pinot noir grapes apparently, and it's a good effort – there are bubblies in the twenties that are not as well put together. "Not bad," with a nod was my guinea pig's summary.
Strut wines are available at Wine Rack stores, where I bought the samples for my tasters. For similar (though not exactly the same I've been told) lower priced VQA wines at the LCBO, look for the Open label.
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