December 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
A little while back I was sent a bottle of a Lemon Heart Blackpool Spiced Rum that is new to the market.
Over the following weeks I put it through its paces. I tasted it neat, with ice, and, of course, with egg nog.
You know what, that is not enough. It had been awhile since I had tasted the likes of Capt. Morgan, Bacardi Oak Heart, Sailor Jerry’s & Kraken. If I were to really review the Lemon Hart Blackpool, I had to see how it would fare against other items that have been long established in the market.
Here is the skinny. the Lemon Hart Blackpool brought some serious game. It had more character and a richer, more complex, flavour than the Captain Morgans, while working better in Egg Nog than the Kraken.
The Captain Morgans and Bacardi are lower in price ($25.49 & $22.99 respectively), but I found at $26.99, the Lemon Hart was a better buy. Treat yourself to the quality difference $4 makes.
If you have any questions please drop me a line.
Next: The BC Government recently announced that it would be conducting yet another review of the liquor industry. I will be penning a few thoughts shortly.
December 29, 2018 § Leave a comment
It has been years since we have gone out to a New Year’s party. We typically ere on the side of a quiet New Year’s at home where we enjoy a late meal of Lobster, Charcuterie, fresh veggies and some sort of dessert. If this sounds like you here are some Sparkling wines to celebrate a quiet New Year’s at Home.
I do love Champagne but at this time of year we have usually spent our New Year’s budget on Christmas, so let’s focus on some bubble that is special enough to match the evening but are not $60+/Bottle.
Cremant’s are sparkling wines made using the same methods as used in Champagne, but are made in other regions of France. I have soft spot for those made in the Alsace, referred to as Cremant D’Alsace.
My pick can only be found in private liquor stores by is well worth the effort to find – Zinck Cremant D’Alsace.
A wonderful blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this wine is super expressive. Biscuitty, fresh tree fruit, exuberant and truly loves food with nuanced flavours. Stick with seafood including shellfish, but a decent terrine and charcuterie plate will benefit from this wine. You will find wine at private retailers for anywhere between $25 and $30.
Second is a perennial favourite and can be found in most quality liquor stores, and even a few grocery stores now – Steller’s Jay Brut.
The Steller’s Jay Brut has long been a standard at our table around the holidays. Made in the same method as are Champagne’s this fizz sports truly BC flavours. Flavours from the orchard – pear, apple, hints of peach and strawberry. Pair with lighter fare and will work very very well with a charcuterie plate, prawns and fresh fruits. $22-$27.
Originally made by the legend Harry McWatter’s, a true pioneer and founding cornerstone of the BC Wine industry, it has been crazy consistent good through all it evolution. Originally made at the Hawthorne Mountain Winery which became Sumac Ridge and then was sold to wine giant Constellation Brands. I wish all wines could say the same.
Lastly is a truly versatile wine that is great on the pocket book, seductive on the palate and easy to find – Cordoniu Classico Cava.
I prefer Cava to Prosecco as there is a little more weight and complexity in the wines and they work with a broader range of foods. For instance Cava can easily work with a Pork dish from Aranda as with a seafood dish from Galicia. The Cordoniu Classico is likely not the best ever Cava, but in my opinion it punches above its weight and a little cheaper than many. You can find this at government stores at $14.99.
Anyway, I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want specific pairings for what your New Year’s meal will have, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give it a shot.
The Dork Uncorked
December 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
Every Christmas I run into the same problem. Not enough money to buy all the wines that I want and the tough choices that ensue.
This year is no different. Coming off a November to remember that had the effect of exhausting any financial stores we had for Christmas, I found myself in the aisles looking for steals.
Typically this is the wrong time of year to look for steals. This is the time of year I go back to tried and true deals. Nonetheless here are a couple of steals as you run out to do the last minute wine buys.
First is a BC Liquor Store exclusive, thus you won’t find it in private liquor stores. What is weird is I couldn’t even find in the back end of the LDB pricing structure. Clearly they don’t want the trade to know anything about it. Anyway it is a killer Santa Barbara grown Pinot Noir called Alta Maria priced at $14.99.
Originally this was priced at $21.99, although I suspect this was originally priced with the idea of dropping the price by $7 for December, this wine is featured in the LDB’s radio ads (I hate hate hate them for so many reasons).
Very plush, loads of ripe cherry, berry and floral flavours upon first sip, but just wait, if blossoms into an unctuous explosion of silky seduction. The nose has classic cherry cola notes but doesn’t give a hint to the wondrousness that abounds on the palate.
Pinot Noir is also one of the classic pairings for Roast Turkey, and it would likely work with Tortiere, and Ham.
This is definitely a buy, in fact do what I did and buy at least 12. Your January will be demonstrably better.
Next is a wine that I discovered way back at the beginning of December. I was in the Italian aisle (a default for me) and wanted something rich and relaxing. Something that would smooth out the edges that were ever sharpening at the time. I also needed it to be under $15 (parking fees at Royal Jubilee Hospital really ate into my wine budget).
I chose the Passimento Veneto IGT. On sale to $13.99 for December it also has a really cool label. If you have ever been to Verona Italy or heard of Juliet’s wall you will recognize it right away. If you haven’t here is a link: Juliets Wall Verona.
Anyway, let this wine breathe and it will provide millions of dollars of value and dreams of a bright future. It sports lots of savoury richness, dried and fresh fruits, spices, earthy-ness and, truly mesmerizing savoury herbs of lavender and rosemary.
If you listen to the show, this was my pick of the week a few weeks back. Since then I have purchased at least a dozen bottles, including those that will be on my Christmas dinner table.
This wine will be absolutely delicious with Turkey dinner that has savoury spices abound. I’m so looking forward to this. My wife makes a killer, well balanced gravy from the Turkey drippings that will be awesome with this.
Both of these wines are great last minute steals for anyone and not just those of us where frugality is the rule. In fact if you can swing it I highly recommend getting a case of each as your January will be much better for it and both will help heal those aching muscles as you keep your New Year’s fitness resolution for at least a couple of weeks.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and I will do my damndest to answer the,
Cheers & Merry Christmas.
June 2, 2017 § Leave a comment
Did you know that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Great Canadian Beer Festival?
Gerry talks with me and Ryan about the history and stories that have built the Festival to being one of the world’s best. Enjoy!
May 14, 2017 § Leave a comment
Pick of The Week – May 13, 2017
We were crashing at my mother-in-law’s as we had put the house up for sale and it was open house weekend. My mother-in-law is more like a big sister to me and she happily indulges my adventurous streak when it comes to wine.
Armed with validation and freedom of having an hour to shop, I went looking for something I had never had before.
I strolled through the aisles of Everything Wine and saw many labels that seemed to want to convey the same thing – tradition. However they all said the same thing on the back; passion, quality, family, character. It was almost as if the back labels were all cut and pasted by the same person. Then I came upon the Envyfol.
At first I was a little suspect giving the weight of the bottle. It was a huge thick glass bottle normally associated with either top end wines ($40+), or really crappy wines that are desperately trying cover up the quality of the wine.
I read the back label and it was different from the rest. There was an element of authenticity that I may have read into it, but got me to trust that I was not about to be ripped off. Couple that with the playful, mischevious characters that, at the moment, I identified with, I happily grabbed the bottle and proceeded to check out.
The Envyfol is a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) from the south of France, specifically the Languedoc region. As many of you know, this region is one of my favourites when it comes to finding wines that over deliver for the price. The Envyfol was no exception.
Pours black in the glass and shows generous aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and cassis fruits with hints of dried herbs, pepper and a delicate smokiness as if from as small, petite, fire of dried rosemary branches.
The palate was bright and brimming with ripe, fresh fruit. The finish was juicy and showed soft, well balanced tannins.
Overall this was a great find and something that not only over delivers but also a wine that I will happily buy again… even if it was $5 more.
Where: Everything Wine, French section
April 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
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We could have chatted for sometime as we really didn’t get o deep into some of the issues, but one thing was clear is that Mr. Yap, BC Liberal MLA for Richmond-Steveston, an MLA for the supposed free enterprise party, staunchly supports continuing the current hybrid retail system and problematic distribution system.
For those that have listened to the show over the last year or so, you know that I strongly believe that fixing distribution is key to long term liquor reform and the creation of a truly level playing field.
The current system that supports the LDB’s monopoly on the distribution of imported wines, beers & spirits, is broken. By broken I mean costing the government $300M/year in lost taxes because of unfulfilled orders.
How to fix it is remarkably simple, but first let’s look at the biggest problem to solve – capacity.
The current distribution centres we built to handle $1B/annum of volume. 2017 will see $3B in volume go through. What this means is that some orders just can’t get filled because there is no space to accommodate the stock needed. So what was the LDB/BC Liberal solution. Spend $1B in building a larger facility in Delta.
The fact is that all the BC Liberals had to do was to pass an order in council that allowed suppliers to choose their distributor. There are a number of private & bonded distributors that are nowhere near capacity and would gladly take on the extra work. Not all suppliers would move, but a good number would because they value the 10% growth they automatically get.
Secondly this would speed up delivery times. No longer would a product ordered by a store in Richmond have to leave the bonded warehouse (ContainerWorld, Hillebrand) in Richmond, go to the LDB warehouse in Vancouver, only to be shipped to the store in Richmond.
Third, and this is the bonus, the government would not have to re-purpose any workers at the LDB Warehouse. The only thing that would change is that they have the capacity to fill the orders they get.
There are other things that such a change would involve and I would be happy to share those if you like. Drop me a line at email@example.com.
Pick Of The Week
Paul Mas Valmont Rouge 1L
In October I took a couple of bottles of the Paul Mas Valmont Blanc to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving dinner and they were a big hit, so when I saw the Rouge version, I thought I would give it a whirl and I am very glad that I did.
This blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah shows classic Languedoc aromas and flavours of black cherry, plums, dried herbs and black pepper spice.
This is a medium bodied wine that is very well balanced. What that means is that the flavour, the body and finish all worked together. It wasn’t flabby, or light, or short or tannic and bitter. It showed fresh ripe fruit, savoury spices with a delightfully fruit filled finish.
I would, and will, pair this with roasted chicken, and beef stews. As for cheese, go with a Gruyere or Ementhal.
Grapes ~ Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
Country of Origin ~ France
Region ~ Languedoc
Price ~ $11.79 1L
Score ~ 8.5/10 – Over Delivers
Purchased At ~ BC Liquor Store Langford
April 1, 2017 § Leave a comment
One of the my favourite things to do when in the ‘wine store’ is to scour the shelves in the dark corners. Every store has them and the typical retailer places slow-moving items there.
I find that this is also where you find some great deals, and that is how I came across this weeks wonderful find.
As most of you know I have a great love for Grenache and Grenache blends, so when I saw the Jas du Lauzon languishing in a dark corner of the Cascadia Uptown store, it was a match made in heaven. It was also only $14.99 so it seemed to me that it was must try.
It pours almost black in the glass and has aromas of ripe raspberries, stewed plums, blueberry and black pepper spice.
The palate showed richness, and supple depth with a fresh fruit and spice finish.
Given that most of the time any purchase I make has to stretch across 2-3 meals, a great wine, for me, needs to be food versatile, and this one fit the bill nicely. I had this with Paella one night, chicken the next and finally homemade pizza, and in all cases the wine worked really well, and hence I grade this one as a great buy and it over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $14.99
Blend ~ Grenache, Syrah
Country of Origin ~ France
Region ~ Luberon (Southern Rhone/Provence)
Score ~ 8.2/10
Label ~ Over Delivers!
Purchased at ~ Cascadia Uptown
If you have any questions or feedback, let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org
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October 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
The data shows that household spending drops well below the annual average in the weeks following Thanksgiving up until the 3rd week of November.
The fact is that you don’t have to give a good glass of wine with dinner or after a hard day, you just have to find the best of the ones that fit your budget.
What follows is a list of 3 whites and 3 reds that provide great value and don’t break the bank.
Jean Louis Blancs de Blancs (Sparkling) – An everyday Sparkling wine. Yeah that’s right an everyday sparkling wine to celebrate life’s small victories. Delightful ripe apple and pear, a very decent mousse for the price. Just a fine glass of wine for the price. ~ Score 8.2/10 ($12.99-$14.99)
Cono Sur Gewurztraminer – For those who enjoy a lighter style wine that is a touch sweeter. This is a light bodied quaffer that shows flavours of lychee nut, white peach and pear. ~ Score 7.9/10 ($9.99 – $11.99)
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay – A richer wine that embodies the sun of the country it comes from. Tropical fruit flavours with a touch of caramel on the finish. I love this wine as it has not really changed its price since the wine came into the market back in the early 90’s. ~ Score 7.8/10 ($10.99-$12.99)
Giacondi Sangiovese Merlot – Buy this one by the 1.5L (Magnum) as it works out to being about $6/Bottle. This wine is one of the most consistent and best values on the Market. Cherry, berry and plum flavours with a medium body. Do me a favour, let this wine breathe for 15-30min. before enjoying. If you do you will be handsomely rewarded. ~Score 7.9/10 ($11.99 1.5L)
Tocado Grenache – This is a super juicy, ripe wine and it will be tough to stop at one glass. Ripe raspberry, currant and blueberry flavours with a gentle soft palate. I know you can get this at Cascadia stores for $11.99 and $9.99 if you buy it by the case… and it is worth buying by the case. ~ Score 7.8/10 ($9.99-$11.99)
Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah – I would be hard pressed to find another wine of structure that provides better bang for the buck. The Tocado above is all about juicy-ness and a soft palate, this wine has some structure and is filled with plum, blackberry and cassis. ~ Score 7.6/10 ($9.99- $12.99)
September 8, 2016 § Leave a comment
The main thrust of this blog is to weed through the masses of under $20 wines to find the true values. Having said that, every so often I come across a wine that is over $20, that grabs my attention and excitement. This is one of those wines.
Released to the market in the last week the Black Hills 2014 Syrah. Black Hills has a long history of producing great wines including Nota Bene, so I was really looking forward to tasting this year’s release of the Syrah.
I will cut right to the chase, I was totally enthralled with this wine. I was expecting a meaty, leathery Syrah with some big aggressive tannins; after all it is a new release. What If found was a wine with wisdom beyond its years.
Deep purple in the glass and ripe fruit aromas with hints of smoked meat and tobacco leaf. The palate was deep and engaging with a finish that showed finesse and the quality of the fruit.
I could easily see purchasing this wine as a gift or for a special evening like a date night or celebrating one of life’s victories. I’m even motivated to get on the Black Hills mailing list, and get myself a case as I don’t think this will last long in the market, even though the price will be $35-$45 in private stores… if you can find it.
Price ~ $35-$45
Score ~ 8.9/10 Points – Best Buy
The reason I would buy a case of this as I would be really curious to see how this wine develops over time. The vineyards for this wine are primarily sandy which is great for fully developing fruit flavours and ripening, but makes developing the acidity necessary for aging a challenge. When I taste this the acid is bright and lively, and I suspect that this wine will age well.
As for food, we had this with a pork roast and root vegetables and it was awesome. The fats in the pork roast allowed the fruit and savoury flavours in the wine to shine through.
Grapes ~ Syrah
Availability ~ Fine Wine Stores, Restaurants, Winery
Store Section ~ BC, VQA
Next Up: Tasting Aged Wines
September 8, 2016 § 4 Comments
After a bit of a summer ending break I am back it and will have a number of posts in the coming weeks.
First will be my take on a new release wine out of the Okanagan (yeah, you want to get on this wine). Followed by some notes on tasting aged wines and then a review on a wine that you likely all remember, but have likely forgotten.
Anyway I will talk to you all soon.