February 25, 2015 § 1 Comment
I recall the days where the majority of BC’s wine consumers considered that BC couldn’t make red wines. Then came the criticism that BC wines were to expensive. With that in mind I was eagerly anticipated tasting a VQA wine that I found at Everything Wine called Scrapbook Red Blend.
The wine provided me with an interesting conflict. It is not a style that I like, however I know that there is a ton of consumers out there that love this type of wine especially when it is compared to California wines likes Apothic.
For me this wine is dead average, however it is every bit as good as Apothic which is priced at $16.99. My recommendation is that if you are a lover of Apothic, Cupcake Red Velvet, Carnivore, Insomnia, etc. then save yourselves a few bucks and enjoy Scrapbook, however if you are like, and are looking for more than sweet fruit in your glass, then give this wine a pass.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark, blood red and the aromas are of crushed berries with a hint of vanilla. The palate is juicy, of medium weight and finishes with sweet juicy fruit.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with grilled steak and it was a decent match. The wine held up and certainly didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the meal.
Value: As I mentioned, this wine is a decent value in relation to the likes of Apothic, Cupcake, etc. and I would suggest seeking this out as an alternative to those.
Added Value: This wine has added value as a Crowd Pleaser and perhaps a BBQ Wine.
Score: 6.8 – Dead Average
Service: Twist off the cap and off you go.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Store Section: BC/VQA
Appellation: Okanagan Valley
Available: Everything Wine
February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
From the ranks of the hard to find beauties comes the Buon Tempo Rosso di Montalcino. I dare say that this blog won’t be reviewing too many Rosso di Montalcino’s as most of them start around the $30. In fact this is the first in my 25 years in the game here in BC that is priced under $20 and it is a true treat.
About a year ago you would have been able to find this in many of Vancouver’s and Victoria’s finer wine shops, and it was gobbled up very quickly. Fortunately I stumbled upon a few bottles that were gracing the shelves of the Cascadia Colwood store (I think there was a total of 13 bottles left after my purchase). As I bid farewell to the very pleasant cashier my mouth began to water with anticipation. Would it be as awesome as I remembered it? Afterall it was a child of the incredible 2010 vintage. How could I go wrong?
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a deep rusty crimson and the nose is wonderfully expressive. Aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, savoury spices like sage and a beautiful perfume of purple flowers such as violets. The palate is rich, vivacious and luxurious showing why the wines of Montalcino are in such hot demand. Flavours of cherry, plum and spice unfold as if blossoming on the palate. The finish is long, velvety and rich in flavour and spice.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this with grilled chicken thighs that were spiced with Greek Spice and the pairing was a delight mostly because the wine was so good. Wines like this have such finesse and grace that they rarely over power a meal and are almost never overshadowed by the dish. The fruit and spice flavours came alive and my palate was kept fresh and wanting of the next bite.
Value: Given the rare nature of this wine I would highly recommend making this your choice this week (last week of Feb. 2015). I would forestall all others and enjoy this wine.
Added Value: This wine shows added value as a Foodie Wine, a great choice for a Date Night and is awesome for Comfort Foods. For those not familiar with the wines of Montalcino but have always wanted to try here is your chance to Explore this great region.
Score: 9.4 – Best Buy
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for at least 45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times.
Store Section: Italy
Available: Cascadia Liquor Stores (Colwood for sure, call the others to see if they have stock).
February 21, 2015 § 2 Comments
Some of the best buys on the market sometimes are head scratchers. I bought this wine from Cascadia Langford. It caught my eye because of the packaging, the region and the winery. I took it home and eagerly anticipated my first sip. As you will see by the score, for the money, this is, in my opinion, a Best Buy so I contacted the proprietor under the assumption that it was a one time buy or that it was selling by the case and that there was only a few bottles remaining. Her response is the head scratcher “nope, not really moving.” If you love Pinot and would like to have one priced for everyday consumption, this is it. If you have heard lots about Pinot Noir but didn’t want to spend $20+ to get a good one, this is your wine. If you just want a great glass of wine, this is your wine.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark, bright red. The aromas show ripe black cherry, cola, white pepper, and the lovely scent of walking through the forest in fall. The palate is fresh, alive and of light to medium weight. The texture is soft which allows the aromas to express themselves as flavours on the palate. The finish is juicy, somewhat silky, but totally delicious.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with one of my favourite meals. When life insures that we eat a little later than usual, we feed the kids earlier, but wait to sit down to dinner after the fury of the evening is done so we can relax, enjoy each others company and the meal in front of us. Typically this means a simple selection of charcuterie like prosciutto, salami, liver pate, combined with some cheeses that are usually white cheddar, and either brie or Cambazzola. I cut up some baguette, pour some olive oil on to a plate and we are good to go.
The wine showed beautifully. The flavours were incredibly expressive while the body held up to the various fats and acids. The texture became silky and luxurious. For $15-$17, this is a great wine and you should get this one by the case.
Value: As a Best Buy this is an easy trade up from many wines under $14 no matter their type, and, in fact I would save myself a couple of bucks and choose this wine over many $18-$20 wines. I will never give up the diversity of wine for one wine, but I am adding this wine to my go to arsenal.
Added Value: This is an awesome wine as a Crowd Pleaser, would make a great Wedding Wine. Brilliant for Date Nights, Movies Night and certainly for when the Foodies come over. I would also suggest this wine as a great way to explore or introduce yourself or someone else to the beauty of the Pinot Noir grape.
Score: 9.1 – Best Buy
Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe for a few minutes then enjoy.
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Store Section: Chile
Appellation: Casablanca Valley
Available: Cascadia Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
Buy Online: Everything Wine,
February 17, 2015 § 1 Comment
What happens when you come across a wine that you really enjoy but can’t seem to find anywhere. This is such a wine. It was given to me by someone who knows I have a passion for weeding through the thousands of skus on the under $20 market, to find remarkable wines for the money. They thought that this wine would get a pretty good rating and, yes it will. The quality of the wine is not the problem. The value for money is not the problem. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a store that carries it. If you are reading this, have a favourite local store, please ask them to bring the Gandia 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon in, then let me know and I will go down and buy some.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Deep crimson in colour with very complex aromas for the price. Red berries, cassis, dark chocolate, savoury spices, and just a kiss of licorice root. The palate is of mid-weight and the texture is round and velvety. The flavours echoed the nose yet the dark chocolate morphed into more of a mocha sensation. This finish shows polish and is of medium length. The tannins are soft and sweet which makes this an awesome sipping Cab.
Tasting Notes with Food: Typically Cabernet Sauvignon screams out steak or roasted red meat. This wine shows a little more softness and restraint so it is a better match for Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chop or Grilled chicken or Turkey. I had this with chicken thighs roasted in the oven with simple spices of salt and pepper and it worked beautifully. Anything heavier and it might have gotten lost.
Value: Again this is not your run of the mill competitor for a big California or Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. It represents great value for the money and I think you will really enjoy it, however of you are a lover of the Cabernets mentioned above this is likely an Exploration purchase. If on the other hand, you typically drink red blends of Southern France or Central Italy, this would be a great trade… at least to check it out.
Added Value: This wine shows added value for a Date Night, Movie Night and even for the Foodies.
More To The Story: Wine from this area of Spain (Utiel-Requena) has been enjoyed since the 7th century BC and has escaped Moorish prohibition and the scourge of phyloxxera which devastated most of the rest of Europe in the decades following 1868. Nestled just inland from Valencia Spain this D.O. has a broad range of grapes grown and shares a very similar climate to that of eastern Washington State and parts of northern California (long, dry hot summers, cold winters), which accounts for the finesse of the wine.
Score: 8.6 – Over Delivers (could have scored higher, however I’m estimating the price. If the retail price turns out to be $16.99 it would have gotten a higher score. If $15.99 then a Best Buy.)
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Store Section: Spain
Available: In very limited distribution. Check with smaller specialty private stores.
February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Plain de Dieu. It was rumoured, in the middle ages, that you put your life into God’s hands if you were to cross the Plan de Dieu in the Rhone Valley of France. I think that it is fair to say that God had a hand in bringing forth some incredible wines from an area that, formerly was the domain of highwaymen and bandits of all sorts.
The Plan de Dieu is a small little area that only produces red wines and has the denomination of Cotes du Rhone Villages, which isn’t as valuable a moniker as Cotes du Rhone. However this is means this region is a source of great value for the money. Cotes du Rhone Villages doesn’t fetch the big dollars on the global market and that means that a wine like the Gabriel Meffre can be on the retail shelves for under $20 while similar quality wines pitch a price tag of $20 and over – Over Delivers.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Dark purple to black in the glass, with aromas of dark ripe plum, cherry, cassis, bay leaf and host of fragrant savoury spices. The palate is round and voluptuous with great balance between tannin and acidity meaning that it has both power and freshness. The flavour punch is an impressive expression of dark ripe fruits and spices. The finish is relatively long and ends with a kiss of spice.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with lamb burgers and it was a great match. The fruit and spice became vibrant while the tannins softened to make the whole experience delightful.
Value: I would definitely choose this wine over a number of the 2012 Cote Du Rhones on the market that are priced at $19.99 and I prefer this wine to that of the La Fiole 2012. If you are used to rich, juicy powerful Shiraz’s from Australia this might not be your wine as the flavours and textures are finer. Well worth the exploration.
Added Value: This wine really shines as a Foodie Wine or BBQ wine. If either of these categories describe your activities, then give this wine a shot.
Score: 8.8 – Over Delivers
Service: Let breathe for 30-45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah
Store Section: France
Appellation: Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone Village
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot, Everything Wine
Buy Online: Everything Wine,
February 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Uco Valley of Argentina is one of my top ten wine regions to visit in the world. Not only does it offer stunning beauty, but it produces my favourite ever Pinot Noir, Malbec, Chardonnay and, yes Pinot Gris. It is a small area in comparison to appellations in California or Australia, but the wines tend to offer great flavour, texture and balance and because it is not as well known as other regions of Argentina, the wines generally drive greater value than what their price suggests.
I have experienced many a Lurton wine and have seen them expand their wings into various regions outside of France, and I’m not surprised at all that they are in the Uco, in fact I’m impressed.
Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of Pinot Gris. There are many that are well made, but there are other profiles that when using my own money, I would buy over Pinot Gris.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a flinty pale straw. Likely best described as the colour of filtered sunlight at midday. The aromas show pear, citrus, melon and some lovely minerality. The palate is fresh, balanced and complete; there are no holes. The flavours match the aromas and there is a juicy pear ‘center’ that is really appealing. The finish is crisp and juicy.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a simply grilled Tilapia filet and it worked beautifully. Tilapia is relatively light and it was seasoned with some herbs (taragon, parsley, basil), butter and a touch of lemon. The fruit in the wine came alive and made the meal greater than the sum of its parts; isn’t that what you want from a Monday night dinner? Why not make Monday special?
Value: I know that many will dislike the following comment, however this wine is every bit as good as BC Pinot Gris’s at $17-$20. I would happily trade up a couple of bucks from wines such as Woodbridge (California), Yellow Tail (Australia) and Nederburg (South Africa).
Added Value: This wine has added value for those looking for Wedding Wine. It makes a fantastic Girls Night Out and Date Night Wine, and it is very much a Crowd Pleaser.
More To The Story: I love that this wine immediately took me to the Uco Valley. I could feel the gentle breeze on my face, the dryness of the air and the vista as I looked up at the snowy peaks of the Andes. For me if there is a signature of a great wine, this is it. If it can transport me to a place, whether an idea or memory of a place, it has made a positive impression.
Score: 8.7 – Over Delivers
Service: Chill down and enjoy. Make sure that it is not too cold. You will be able to tell if there isn’t a juicy ‘middle’ to the wine.
Grapes: Pinot Gris
Store Section: Argentina
Appellation: Uco Valley
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
February 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are very few proven facts about wine. One of the only things about wine that we know for sure is that one size does not fit all. Unlike the soft drink, beer and electronics industry, one brand does not dominate the market and to me that is apart of the eloquence and seductiveness about wine. Every wine has a story. Some are liked by many, and some are liked by a few, but there is a home in the heart of someone for every wine. This wine for me is no exception. It didn’t wow me, but I can see how it would be ‘crave-worthy’ to many. There are lots of attractive elements and that is why this was a difficult wine to review for me. I get the distinct impression that in a couple of years the oak and fruit components will have found peace and work together. At present they seem a little at odds. I came down to the conclusion that to a specific segment of the wine drinking population this wine would be all they ever wanted from a $15 and more wine. For me it was a better than the average Good Drop, but lacked complete balance to get an Over Delivers rating, hence I rated this at the highest end of the Good Drop range. I’m glad to have had the experience.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Dark red to purple in colour (classic Tempranillo colour). The nose is dominated by oak but lurking in the shadows is some delightfully ripe red and black fruits and black pepper spice. On the palate you will immediately notice some structure and power (tannin), while the fruit flavours come out a bit more. There is still a good dose of oak that seems to be contesting the fruit for center stage. The finish is of medium length and you will get a big kiss of oak at the end.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a simple chicken dish that featured lots of savoury flavours and was of medium weight. The wine definitely stood up to the challenge, however near the end of the meal the oak really started to express itself.
Value: For those that usually buy Apothic or other lavishly oaked wines this is a definite winner. It provides excellent value for the price if you are willing to explore a bit.
Added Value: This wine would shine as a BBQ wine as long as the BBQ featured grilled red meats. I would also suggest this wine would be awesome with some hot buttered popcorn on Movie Night.
More To The Story: Oak ageing was an unquestioned part of the wine business until the mid-90’s when there was a huge backlash to the amount of oak influence on a wine. The backlash was so significant that hundreds of wines started appearing boasting the fact that there was no oak used in the making of the wine. Brands like Naked Grape too hold of the market. The effect was so comprehensive that it became very difficult to find wines that were proud of their oak ageing. Gone were the ‘buttersticks’ of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Thank goodness the pendulum is starting to swing back because oak, when used well, can add so much to a wine. Flavours like caramel, cinnamon, and butter are a function of oak and not of the grape. Oak can also have a positive effect on the texture of a wine. It can soften sharp edges, it can add complexity, and when used with malolactic fermentation, it can give a wine a pronounced creamy texture and finish. In the late 80’s and early 90’s this wine would be at the top of the list, 10 years ago it would have been completely banned, now it is apart of a welcome swing of the wine pendulum.
Score: 7.4 – Good Drop
Service: Pull the cork and let it breathe for at least 30 minutes to let the fruit aromas and flavours express themselves. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, run it through that a few times and you are good to go.
Store Section: Spain
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
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