March 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.7 – Good Drop
I love Chardonnay! There I said it. It’s not cool to like Chardonnay, but I do. I love the curvy, sultry, seductive nature of a well balanced oaked Chardonnay. It is almost as if such a Chardonnay is one of temptations that those on a pulpit may warn you of. This wine was once one of those, however retains a good amount of its previous allure. I really liked this wine but it has seen better days.
Tasting Notes: The colour is a bright amber yellow. The nose shows caramel, ripe ripe delicious apple, and just a touch of hazelnuts (the hallmark of an older wine). The palate has a welcome creamy texture with a delightful caramel apple flavour. On the finish there is a touch of hazelnut to go with the apple flavour.
Value: This wine is for one looking to taste how older whites develop without spending $25/bottle. It also provides a great opportunity to taste the region that popularized Chardonnay.
Added Value: This wine has added value for those looking to explore the flavours of older Chardonnays; Exploration Wine. This is also a damn fine wine for movie night with lots of hot buttered popcorn.
Food Pairings: This wine is a great pairing for a Spinnach salad with nuts and feta, otherwise it is a great wine for hot buttered popcorn.
Service: Serve this wine chilled but not cold. If it comes out of the fridge with condensation, let it warm up a bit before serving.
Store Section: France
Appellation: Macon-Villages – Macon-Villages is in the South of the region of France called Burgundy… you may have heard of it. You may have also heard of French oak as being the oak of choice for many winemakers and, certainly, Chardonnay. The combination of Macon-Villages with its relatively affordable pricing (in comparison to Mersault or Pouilly Fuse), aged in French oak is the style that inspired the pioneers of California winemaking and lead to the Judgement of Paris that truly launched the California wine industry.
Available: Liquor Depot ‘Preferred Vintages’ (wines exclusive to Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn stores)
March 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
It takes a little while for the true beauty of this wine to show itself. It’s kind of like a self-conscious super model. All the senses tell you that she has everything it takes to be great, however her true beauty only comes out when you get to know her.
Tasting Notes: This wine starts as a classic Montepulciano experience. The colour is deep dark crimson and the nose is shy. This wine needs time to blossom. I found this wine to finally show itself after 2 days being open. When I first pulled the cork, the nose showed a little fruit and a little dried herb, but after two days it showed ripe plum and berry, dark cherry, dried savoury herbs, hints of leather and anise.
The palate is dense and structured, but shows wonderful complexity and depth. The finish is long showing both muscular and sweet tannins. In other words it was both puckering and mouth-watering.
Value: The real value for this wine is when you can let it breathe for a couple of days. This is not a great buy for those who want a wine to consume within a couple of hours of purchase. However if you are patient this is a great buy for this weekend BBQ or to stow away for a number of years.
Added Value: As I said above, this wine has added value when intended for a BBQ featuring steaks, and or slow roasted pork. This also has added value for the Foodie in the crowd, especially when you pull it out of your cellar after Canada wins the Gold Medal for Hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Food Pairings: This is a great match for a hearty pasta, a thick seasoned steak, meat lovers pizza and, slow roasted pork.
Service: Open this up and let it breathe for as long as you can but at least 60- 2 days minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a number of times.
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: d’Abruzzo – d’Abruzzo lies directly to the East of Tuscany and, like Umbria, is often overlooked when it comes to premium Italian wines. It is home to as much Sangiovese (Rosso Piceno) as it is Montepulciano. For centuries the wines of the d’Abruzzo were rustic and made for the ‘less than discerning’ Italian wine market. In recent years producers like Talamonti and Mascarelli have applied viticultural techniques known to increase the quality of the grapes to their vineyards, and have produced some of Italy’s most sought after premium wine. The great news is that a premium wine from d’Abruzzo, even a super premium wine, doesn’t fetch anywhere near the same price as its cousins from Tuscany or Piedmonte.
Grapes: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Available: BC Liquor Stores
March 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
It was a cold and rainy night. Seriously it was. After an unbelievably beautiful warm Spring, this day was cold, wet and miserable as is expected on the West Coast at this time of year. That inspired me to find an under $20 Washington State wine that would warm the soul with its power and elegance.
It is remarkable to me that the wines of Washington State are not more popular. Typically they feature robust Cabernets and Merlots, meaty Syrahs, and refined whites. I suppose part of the issue is the fact that most stores shelve the few Washington State wines that we have here in BC, in close proximity to the numerous California based offerings. However overshadowing, more often than not, has the effect of giving more bang for the buck.
Tasting Notes: The colour is deep dark reddish purple which immediately conveys power and intensity. The nose shows cherry, plum, cassis and just a hint of smoked meat and black pepper. The palate is rich, juicy and very well balanced. This is not a simple juice bomb but offers lots of juicy character with the added bonus of being elegant and fresh. Look for flavours of black cherry, plum and pepper to dominate. The finish is juicy and of medium length showing some sweet and bold tannins.
Value: This is a great wine for those who love big bold Cabernets but want something with a little more finesse and elegance than the juice bombs of California (Apothic, Cupcake Red Velvet).
Added Value: This wine would shine at a BBQ, with Comfort Foods and for a Date Night.
Food Pairings: This wine loves a big steak that is simply seasoned with Salt and Pepper or Montreal Steak Spice. This is also a great choice for Spaghetti and Meat Balls, Pizza and, of course, Sunday Night Roast Beef.
Service: Open this up and let it breathe for about 15-20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times.
Store Section: Washington State or USA
Appellation: Walla Walla
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor
March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.8 – Over Delivers
As I strolled the aisles of the liquor store on a Saturday afternoon I came across this wine. What I was looking for was a Bonarda but in this store the Argentine red wine selection was limited to 30 Malbecs, 5 Cabs and 1 Syrah. Given that I was out of luck on the Bonarda, and dinner was fast approaching, I went looking for the wine that presented the best value for the money.What I mean by this is to find the wine with the best packaging, the highest accolades at the lowest price.
Ta Da! TintoNegro 2013 Malbec. At $13.99 and 90 Points from the Wine Advocate, the TintoNegro was the clear choice.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Deep dark purple, almost black in colour. The nose if brimming with a complex combination of dark berry and tree fruits, dark earth, leather and savoury herbs, that are at once bright and muscular. The palate big and boozy and full of power. The tongue is struck by the bold dark fruits wrapped in spicy leather… think of a spicy fruit leather.. without the big sugar. The finish is long, a bit boozy and brooding.
Tasting Notes with Food: This is a wine for a big thick steak. I particularly liked how this wine worked with a steak smothered in Montreal Steak spice. While sipping the fruit is somewhat muted, but with the steak and the spice the fruit shines through.
Value: For $13.99 you should buy this wine… perhaps by the case… assuming you like big boozy wines. If power and weight are key to your enjoyment, this offers both in spades and more so than most in this price point.
Added Value: This wine offers huge added value to BBQ’s and Comfort Foods. It also a nice choice for Date Nights.
Service: Twist off the cap and let breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times. It is not common to aerate or breathe a wine at this price, but this is a testament to the quality of this wine.
Store Section: Argentina
Appellation: Mendoza – The Mendoza appellation encompasses all the sub-appellations in the Mendoza area including the highly touted areas of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley.
Available: BC Liquor Stores
March 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
Seductive, tantric, beguiling, these are words I usually use for the wines of the Langhe region (same goes for Barolo and Barbaresco). With visions of sultry seduction I happily purchased this wine made by the Batasiolo winery.
My eyes grew wide as I twisted the corkscrew into the pliant cork. The long cork slowly broke free of its glass bonds. It took every inch of will not to seek immediate pleasure and pour myself a glass. I could hear the wine slosh deliciously as it poured forth… but no, I had to wait if I wanted to taste and enjoy the wine at its climax.
I put the bottle aside and waited for 30min. The wait was made easier by getting the update on the day from my wife and kids, but then moment finally came where dinner was served, and I could put my whole being into the sensory enjoyment of this wine.
I have to say that the wine did not fulfil my expectations. It is a blend of 3 grapes that can make some incredible wines on their own and it seems that together they served to mute their greatness instead of coming together to make something mind-blowing. It was kind of like the anticipation I had for the Canuck season when they had Messier, Mogilny, and Bure and we all know how that worked out.
Don’t get me wrong, the wine is solid and good, but does it deliver more value considering its price? Unfortunately this wine is fairly priced and thus is a Good Drop.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark purple with deep crimson edges. The nose is muted and somewhat confused. I was looking for the wonderful perfume of Nebbiolo or the bright juicy fruit aromas of Barbera. There were little bits of each, but they weren’t immediately present. The palate is rich and full and shows layers of complexity right from the start through the finish. Flavours of ripe plum, red berries, dried herbs and savoury spices glide across the palate and lead to medium length finish.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had gone to the store to find a wine that would work well with the Spaghetti Bolognese, what better choice than one from the Langhe region. The wine worked well with the meal as it did not shy from the richness of the sauce. The texture of the wine is what made this pairing work best.
Value: This is a good wine and I would suggest this as good introduction to the wines of the Langhe region. However if you are looking for something to blow your mind for the price… this isn’t it.
Added Value: This wine has added value as an Exploration Wine, BBQ wines, as a Foodie Wine and as a pairing for Comfort Foods.
Service: Let breathe for 30-45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo
Store Section: Italy
Available: BC Liquor Stores
March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been unseasonably warm and bright these last few weeks and I can’t help but have my palate turn to fresh whites that are designed, it seems, to pair with bright, fresh Spring days. I contacted a long time colleague and asked him for his reco for best white under $15 currently on the market. Without hesitation he directed me towards the 2013 Domaine de Grachies. Am I glad he did.
This is a blend of 4 grapes of which most are not household names. If you are in the mood for finding a great new white wine experience that you don’t need a mortgage for, here you go.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Flinty gold in colour. The aromatics are tremendous. A fresh combination of jasmine blossoms, fresh pear, some white peach and green apple, and, to top it off, a hint of savoury herbs. The palate is ctirussy and really refreshing. Definitely a delicious reward for cutting the grass, watching the cherry blossoms drop or chatting with songbirds. The finish is vibrant, refreshing and features citrus, pear and dried herbs.
Tasting Notes with Food: I wish I had this with some fresh oysters as I’m sure it would have been tremendous. Instead I had to settle for some cheap brie on Ritz crackers. The wine performed beautifully in reality and virtually, as I considered what it would have been like with fresh oysters on the half shell.
Value: Definitely a great value at $12.99. This wine packs a lot of value into its high-shouldered frame and should be added to everyone’s white wine arsenal for spring and summer.
Added Value: This wines offers added value for those looking to discover new wines, from unfamiliar grapes, from regions outside of their comfort zone. This is clearly an Exploration Wine and would make a great Wedding Wine, Girls Night and Date Night Wine.
Service: Chill down, screw off the top and enjoy.
Grapes: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section: France
Appellation: Cotes de Gascogne
Available: Metro Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Penny Farthing (Victoria), Legacy Liquor Store, Firefly Wines & Ales
March 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you are here on the West Coast you are no doubt enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. For those of you points east, I’m sure you would love to be in a Spring frame of wine… or should I say mind?
It’s been a few months now since I started this blog and given the response, I thought I would ask you all to help improve it. I want to provide reviews of wines in our market that are under $20 and I want them to be fun and useful so if you could take a minute and answer the following questions that would be truly awesome.
March 9, 2015 § 1 Comment
Vinho Verde has long been a favourite of many cork dorks and those immersed in the industry, however its beauty and style has been often overshadowed by the marketing power of major brands and major wine regions. Think of Pinot Grigio meets Sauvignon Blanc. Put another way this wine is like a mash-up of Meg Ryan and Meryl Streep. It is fresh, vibrant, sometimes bubbly, but is also serious, elegant and sophisticated.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is pale straw to flinty green and the nose shows spring blossoms, fresh pear and first harvest green apple. The palate is fresh and alive and filled with vibrancy that lifts the spirits. This finish is surprisingly long for such a light fresh wine with lots of fresh fruit and savoury herbs.
Tasting Notes with Food: I enjoyed this on a fresh, warm spring afternoon with some light cheeses, first of season strawberries, and fresh baguette, truly outstanding!
Value: For $14.99 I would happily choose this wine over many of the whites offered at $14.99. To me this is on a similar scale to classic Italian Pinot Grigio (circa $18) and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (circa $18.99).
Added Value: This is an awesome wine for Weddings, BBQ’s (fish), as a Crowd Pleaser and certainly for Girls Night Out. This wine also has added value as a discovery or Exploration Wine. If you haven’t had Vinho Verde before, you must have this before summer is out.
Score: 8.9 – Over Delivers
Service: Chill down and enjoy. I highly recommend pairing this wine with a back deck or yard and sunny spring or summer afternoon.
Grapes: Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura
Store Section: Portugal
Appellation: Vinho Verde
Available: Everything Wine, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Stores
Buy OnLine: Metro Liquor Stores
March 2, 2015 § 3 Comments
Best Buy – 9.3/10
This wine is the embodiment of the purpose of this blog. It is one of those wines that enters the market without much hope of discovery or success, but to those that find it, they are over-joyed.
Tasting Notes: Bright red berries and fruit with some ripe plum underpinnings greet the nose. The colour is dark crimson and the palate echos the nose. The palate is complete, there are no holes in this wine. The texture is bright, supple and of mid-weight. The finish is of medium length and features the juicy red berries prominent on the palate with the addition of delicate savoury herbs.
Value: At $$10.99-$13.99 this is a killer deal and is a case lot buy… as long as you can find it. This wine truly represents killer value and I would happily seek this out.
Added Value: This wine shines as a Foodie Wine, Crowd Pleaser, BBQ and Comfort Food wine. After all many of the dishes we consider Comfort Foods or ‘everyday meals’ were crafted by peasants in Spain, France and Italy.
More To The Story: As I mentioned above this wine is an example of the purpose of this blog and shows that the diversity of the wine world means that one can’t assume that price or brand awareness will guarantee quality. This wine is imported by a small agency and I can see how most would overlook it. The packaging is dull, the bottle inexpensive, it isn’t blessed with a D.O. certification. I can also see where the price might scare some people away as being too cheap to possibly offer quality, but for those intrepid buyers who take the time to move beyond convention, they will be rewarded. For those readers that need a little more convincing that they should be buying this buy the case, This wine is the house wine at the world’s only 7 star hotel, Bariq Al Arab. Fine praise indeed.
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times. I love having to let a wine of this price breathe. Complexity and character develop as if a blossoming flower.
Store Section: Spain
Available: Spinnaker’s James Bay, Spinnaker’s Vic West, Metro Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Store, Vintage Wines & Spirits, HIllside Liquor Store, One20 LRS, Cork & Barrel, Sooke River Hotel, Liquor Planet.