Picks of The Week Jan. 26-31, 2015

January 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here we go, the top 3 scoring wines of the week, and what a week it was. Glorious weather and a lot of fun seeing how the wines fared with the meals of the week. To be clear there was no attempt to pair the wines with the meals as the meals were just the usual fare.

You can click on the link and go directly to the full review. In this post, under each of the top scorers I have included an excerpt from the review.

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Top Scorer: Artesa 2010 Rioja CrianzaIMG_0724

Price: $14.99

Score: 9.1 Best Buy

Excerpt: “I’m not sure if there is a better value in the Spanish section. Sadly this wine only seems to be available in a very few stores. I would easily put down the Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza at $19.99 for the Artesa. As for trade ups I would happily move up from entry level $12-$14 California Cabernets and Merlots for this wine. Caveat: If you are looking for a big powerful fruit explosion, this is not your wine.”

#2 Rosso del Gello 2009IMG_0718

Price: $15.99

Score: 8.9 Over Delivers

Excerpt: “If you are a fan of Chianti Classico or Sangiovese based wines in general, this is a keeper. I have chosen this over straight up Chianti at $16/$17 many times. I have even put down some Chianti Classico at $20 for this wine as it is in limited supply and really, really enjoyable. The depth and character of this wine is a good starting point for anyone looking to dip their toe into the pool of European wines. It’s just a small step from $13-$17 California or Aussie wines into this wine and the enjoyment is truly there.”

#3 Montalto Pinot GrigioMontalto PG 2

Price: $11.49

Score: 8.6 Over Delivers

Excerpt: “There are thousands of Pinot Grigio’s in stores these days. After tasting many they divide themselves into two groups- Marketing & Classic. The ones in the marketing group are those trying to take advantage of the popularity of the name Pinot Grigio. Those in the classic range are those that share classic Pinot Grigio aromas and flavours. The Montalto Pinot Grigio falls into the Classic group and certainly Over Delivers for the price.”

I would to hear your comments, especially if you have found one the reviewed wines at a store that I have not listed. If you let m know I will update the post and will forever be in your debt. Otherwise let me know what you think… feedback no matter the nature is makes the blog better.

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

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Artesa 2010 Rioja Crianza

January 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

Price: $14.99IMG_0724

Here is another example of the best are often always in short supply. I first tried this wine last year at a trade tasting and it was very impressive. A year later and it is still a Best Buy. For $14.99 this is truly a no brainer for anyone looking for a wine that shows balance, finesse, depth, complexity, softness, bright fruit and spices. On the other hand this is not the wine for those looking for a simple fruit bomb with high alcohol. As it turns out it is a one time offer and a pricing mistake that was honoured by the winery… see below under More To The Story.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is deep dark crimson, while the nose shows dark and red berries, plums, herbs and savoury spices. The palate is bright, complete and shows layers of flavours and textures much like a $20+ should do. The flavours are wonderfully married so as not to overshadow one particular component, rather to allow the enjoyment of sensing the blossoming of a beautiful flower. Black plum, red berries, balsamic, savoury spices and just a hint of oak. The finish is of medium length and supple. Beautiful.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine over two nights. The first night was with roasted chicken legs, some rice and raw veggies and the second night was a classic (not creamy) Ceasar Salad with grilled chicken breast. In both cases the wine showed beautifully. With the roasted chicken legs the spices and dark fruits showed beautifully, whereas with Ceasar Salad and grilled chicken breast, the red fruits, balsamic and a hint of black licorice became the players. It was great in both cases.

Value: I’m not sure if there is a better value in the Spanish section. Sadly this wine only seems to be available in a very few stores. I would easily put down the Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza at $19.99 for the Artesa. As for trade ups I would happily move up from entry level $12-$14 California Cabernets and Merlots for this wine. Caveat: If you are looking for a big powerful fruit explosion, this is not your wine.

Added Value: This wine has huge added value when the Foodies come over and I would suggest it has the same for a Date Night or Movie Night with a Spanish or Southern European theme (Charcuterie, cheeses, olives, nuts, bageutte, etc.)

More To The Story: As I mentioned above this wine is a one time shot, or should I say an once in a lifetime shot. 2010 was one of the best years for Rioja in the last 50 and as such the wines are in high demand. The importer had struck a deal that involved a specific price for a specific volume, however the winery, at the last minute, noticed a pricing error. They had quoted the price of the wine a level below the Crianza (Joven or Young). In other words this wine should be priced at $20+, however understanding that the real value in this deal is in the relationship between the winery, the importer and the consumer, they agreed to honour the original deal. It is suppliers like this that make this industry more than just liquid in a bottle.

Score: 9.1  – Best Buy

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for 45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
. You’re going to love it.

Grapes: Tempranillo

Store Section: Spain

Appellation: Rioja

Available: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 13.0%

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Penfold’s Koonunga Hill 2012 Shiraz-Cabernet

January 29, 2015 § 4 Comments

Price: $16.29-$17.99IMG_0723

The Shiraz-Cab blend is the best of the Koonunga Hill red wine line up. The Shiraz has big opulent fruit, but lacks some structure and finesse. The Cab shows great structure, but lacks big bold fruit. The good news is that the Shiraz-Cab is masterfully blended to showcase each grapes strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Having said that this is a Good Drop and decent value for the money, however at $14.99 or $15.99 I would have said this Over Delivers. If it every goes on sale for $15.99, buy it!

Tasting Notes Sipping: First impressions mean a lot. Either your impression is confirmed or shattered and that makes a difference how you approach people or a wine. In this case the colour is a deep ruby red giving you the impression that the wine will be big, ripe, expressive and round. It is.
Aromas of dark fruits, red berries, chocolate, pepper, spices and even a little vanilla. The palate is ripe, juicy and round. Pretty hedonistic and very easy to enjoy. The finish is of medium length, juicy, sweet tannins and just a hint of spice.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with left over Roast of Beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and raw veggies. I think the gravy over powered the wine, but it was a great match for the beef and potatoes. I would imagine that this would have been brilliant with some grilled lamb, or burgers.

Value: This wine shows decent value for the price, as I have said before, and it is well worth the trade up from items like Yellow Tail. I would even trade up in price from Apothic for this wine. As for competitors in the Australian category at a similar price, it would all depend on the occasion or the food. A big thick steak would mean a quality Cab Sauv like Wolf Blass. A burger or if I’m in a happy go lucky mood, definitely this wine.

I would also suggest that this wine offers better value than Skulls Shiraz at $19.99.

Added Value: Having a BBQ, this wine shines with BBQ. Whether it is southwest style or burgers and such. It is also a great Crowd Pleaser wine that may also appeal the the wedding goer… as long as you have the budget.

More To The Story: Penfold’s has been around for 165 years. That is a long time to be around. In that space of time they have become of Australia’s most recognized exports which means it is really difficult to remain relevant to the consumer. I know that there has been some significant re-direction of funds to product from marketing and I think that is brilliant. After all if you want to remain relevant, the best course of action is to consistently produce a great product.

Score: 7.4  – Good Drop

Service: Twist the cap and let it pour. Room temp is ideal, unless room temp is 30°C, then chill it down to around 18-20°C

Grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: South Australia

 

Alcohol: 13.5%

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Kaiken 2011 Malbec Reserva

January 28, 2015 § 3 Comments

Price: $19.99IMG_0722

As much as I enjoyed this wine, I almost didn’t review it as I had trouble finding retailers whose price was below $20. I’m sure there are many out there, however the only one that with which I could confirm stock and a sub $20 price was the 16th Street Liquor Store in West Vancouver.

For a wine lover I really enjoyed this wine, but the question is does the quality of the wine justify the price or is it a great deal. The answer is that this wine is worth every penny at $20. Is it priced below its value, inconclusive.

Tasting Notes Sipping: You immediately know you are dealing with a serious wine by the colour; it is dark purple, almost black. The nose shows dark, masculine fruits and spice and gives you the impression that this wine is not to be trifled with. This isn’t your whimsical little happy wine, there is some Johnny Depp like angst in this wine. The palate is big, bold and richly textured. I tasted this over three days and it didn’t lose a step at all. The fruit flavours are intense black plum and black, ripe cherry that are married with earthy, leathery, sultry tones. The finish is long and languid, showing structure, spice and fruit.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had a plan when I got this bottle. My plan was to justify a big thick steak and it worked. Simply prepared, thrown on the grill with some salt and pepper and accompanied with a simple spinach salad and good hearty bread. It was a great match. It seemed like the wine on its own was restrained, it was holding something back, but with the steak the genie in the bottle was released. The fruit flavours showed bright intensity. The texture showed its sensitive side and became a loving, velvety caress. For $20 with a steak (total ~$30) this wine over delivered.

Value: The Kaiken was worth every penny when served with the steak. If a steak is part of your dinner plans, treat yourself, value yourself, and get this bottle. On the other hand if you are looking for something to sip while watching TV or having an everyday meal, then save yourself a few bucks and get either Alamos Malbec if you want Malbec, or the Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cab.

Added Value: This wine really shines when the BBQ is a light. You can almost hear it struggling to get into your glass.

More To The Story: Kaiken is the Argentinean property of the Montes family of Chile. After decades of making incredible wines in Chile (if you ever find yourself with a spare $70 burning a hole in your pocket, get a bottle of Purple Angel. I promise that you will absolutely love it!). The family opened their wings and flew over the Andes and picked up the property that is now Kaiken. You would think that all the experience of making wine in Chile would totally influence how Kaiken is grown and made, however in a bit of a reversal, Kaiken forever changed how Montes is grown and made.

A majority of the best vineyard sites in Argentina are at elevation or on the mountainsides. Until the 90’s most vineyards in Chile were in the valley’s. The quality of the wines coming out of Kaiken was like a light bulb going off. Pioneering wineries like Montes soon started planting hillside vineyards to great success.

A Kaiken is a wild goose that flies over the Andes between Chile and Argentina. This wine is very appropriately named as it’s spirit is in one heart but on both sides of the mountains.

Score: 7.4  – Good Drop

Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 45 min to an hour. Alternatively run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times. As I mentioned above this wine held its own and even improved the longer it was open. Serve at room temperature.

Grapes: Malbec

Store Section: Argentina

Appellation: Mendoza

Available: 16th Street Liquor Store, Guildford Station Liquor Store (not sure of price), The Strath Ale (not sure of price), Wine & Spirits (not sure of price), Everything Wine Victoria (not sure of price)

Buy Online: 16th Street Liquor Store

Alcohol: 14.5%

The Dork UnCorked is getting hundreds of views a day which makes it ideal for sponsorship by complimentary items. If you are interested please contact me at email.

Montalto Pinot Grigio

January 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Price: $11.492015/01/img_0719.jpg

There are thousands of Pinot Grigio’s in stores these days. After tasting many they divide themselves into two groups- Marketing & Classic. The ones in the marketing group are those trying to take advantage of the popularity of the name Pinot Grigio. Those in the classic range are those that share classic Pinot Grigio aromas and flavours. The Montalto Pinot Grigio falls into the Classic group and certainly Over Delivers for the price. Having said that there are wines on the market at $13-$14 that I think are a better buy, even a Best Buy, hence why this one didn’t get the highly coveted Best Buy rating.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a light shade of pale straw, while the aromas are of citrus, hints of pear and mineral. Mineral is a positive thing and is a classic characteristic of Pinot Grigio. Think of it as that delicate hint of wet rocks you get from fresh mountain stream water… if that helps. The palate is light, fresh and crisp without being watery. Flavours of lemon and lime marry with Bartlett pear and minerality. The finish is crisp, short and refreshing.

Tasting Notes with Food: This is a sipping wine or a wine that should be paired with light foods such as salads, fruits or very mild cheeses. I love good rustic bread, specifically, traditional Boule. It comes in a round and has a thick crust that wraps itself around a bouncy, rustic bread. I had this wine with some Boule that I dipped in olive oil and a pinch of salt and it was phenomenal. I swear you can close your eyes and place yourself in Italy. The fruit flavours of the wine popped right up while the fresh, crisp acidity worked really well with the olive oil and the bread. The touch of salt and the olive oil integrated with the minerality of the wine to make it better than the sum of its parts.

Value: Definitely worth the trade up from pretenders like Barefoot, Copper Moon and such. However I would choose the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio at $13-$14 over this wine when I’m feeling a little more flush.

Added Value: This wine shines as a Crowd Pleaser or Wedding Wine as it is simply enjoyable. I would also suggest that this wine has added value for Date Nights or Girls Night Out.

More To The Story: Sicily is not normally where you find really good Pinot Grigio. However the slopes of Mt. Etna have volcanic soils and are steep enough to cool the grapes at night. As a Cork Dork there is something else in that statement that shows extra value in the wine. Typically wines in this price range are not hillside grown as harvesting can be more expensive. I’m very happy to see that the proprietors at Montalto have found a way to deliver a wine of this quality, at this price to our market.

Score: 8.6  – Over Delivers

Service: Chill down, but not too cold. You will know when it is too cold by the fact you simply get an acidic wine without a lot of fruit flavours.

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Sicily

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine

Buy Online: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 13.2%

The Dork UnCorked is getting hundreds of views a day which makes it ideal for sponsorship by complimentary items. If you are interested please contact me at email.

2015/01/img_0719-0.jpg

Rosso del Gello 2009 Montecucco

January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.9  – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0718.png
Price: $15.99

If you are a regular reader you will know that great values are often found in the shadows of ‘celebrity’ regions. This wine is no exception. The Montecucco DOC of the Maremma appellation in South of Tuscany. It is central Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino) that gets most of the attention, however for those in the know, and watch vintages carefully, Montecucco is a place where you can find some amazing values. By the way this wine also certified organic.

Tasting Notes Sipping: You will immediately notice the colour of this wine; it is dark, dark ruby red which gives you a clue to the depth of this wine. The nose shows dark ripe cherry and berry, with some dried herbs and lavender highlights. The palate is deep and complex. Layers of flavours including the above and hints of earthy leather, unfold across the mid-palate right through the dark fruit and slightly hot finish. There is definitely a little grip or tannin on this wine, but the tannins are in check, but do ask for food.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine Roasted Rosemary Chicken, which, like it sounds is a whole roasted chicken stuffed with rosemary, lemons, carrots and onions. One of my favourite dishes and really easy to do. The wine was a perfect match for this dish, right from the aromas through the flavours. The weight of wine kept the palate fresh and alive, while the rosemary and citrus made the fruit flavours pop. The slightly hot finish vanished and was replaced with a long, complex finish that included dark berry, herbs and spices and just a hint of purple flowers like lavender and violets.

Value: If you are a fan of Chianti Classico or Sangiovese based wines in general, this is a keeper. I have chosen this over straight up Chianti at $16/$17 many times. I have even put down some Chianti Classico at $20 for this wine as it is in limited supply and really, really enjoyable. The depth and character of this wine is a good starting point for anyone looking to dip their toe into the pool of European wines. It’s just a small step from $13-$17 California or Aussie wines into this wine and the enjoyment is truly there.

Added Value: This wine really shines when the Foodies come over and it is a great option for Sunday dinner kinds of Comfort Foods like Roasted Chicken, Roast Beef, or Roast Pork.

More To The Story: 2009 through central and northern Italy, like that in the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France was one of the best vintages on record. The result is that there was a ton of top quality wine on the market meaning that many wineries in relatively unknown regions were having a tough time selling their stocks. The Rosso Del Gello is a one time buy here in BC. Once it is gone there is no more, and certainly not at this price. The winery was staring the bumper 2010 vintage in the face and needed to move through the last of the 2009. Fortunately the enterprising importer was Johnny on the Spot and grabbed whatever he could. In fact the 2009 sold out in the UK at £11-£13.

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for a good 30 minutes. Alternatively run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times and enjoy.

Grapes: Sangiovese Grosso Store Section: Italy Appellation: Maremma

Available: Everything Wine Buy Online: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 14%

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Piccini Chianti

January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.5  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0717.jpg

Price: $14.99-$17.45

Proof that pricing is not always a great indicator of value. Fluctuations in currency values can have a huge impact on the price of a wine. Take this wine for instance. Note the variation in price. Over the last number of months the price of this wine has climbed due to the increasing value of the Euro against the Canadian Dollar. I really like this wine as it is a step back in history to a time when wine was made to go with food, be refreshing and, in Italy, was consumed more often than water. For those looking for a wine experience this wine Over Delivers. For those looking for big, powerful, fruit driven wine, look elsewhere.

I have found this wine at $14.99 and for that price, under the scenario noted above, this wine Over Delivers… at $16.99 it’s a Good Drop.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The nose shows bright red cherry, some red berries and dried herbs (classic old school Chianti), while the palate has a light-medium body, is fresh and bright flavours of sour cherries and purple flowers. The finish is relatively short and shows some grip.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had the good fortune of having this with the Margherita Pizza from Pizza Prima Strada and it was tremendous! The fruit flavours came to the front and the freshness of the wine brought the heavenly flavours of the fresh basil and subtle creaminess of the Buffala Mozzarella. With simple foods this wine over delivers.

Value: This wine has great value and is worth the money as long as you are looking for a wine experience that takes you back in time. Setting out a red & white checkered tablecloth, have some mandolin music playing in the background and share a simple pasta or pizza and you have it nailed. If you are having the group over for a get together, stick with your usual Crowd Pleaser choice.

Added Value: As I said above this wine shows added value for Date Night, Comfort Foods or for the Foodies.

More To The Story: What do you think of the package? Classic hey? Did you know that for many years most wine was packaged like this. The basket allowed the rounded bottom bottle to stand on the table making it easier to serve. That all changed when along came a glass blower who figured out that if you push in the bottom you can have a bottle that will stand on its own.

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi. You will notice how much more expressive the aromas are and the tannin, or grip, won’t be as pronounced on the palate.

Grapes: Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Chianti DOCG

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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