Best Wine Gifts For The Unknown Palate Under $20

June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s the end of the school year and time to get gifts for our kids very deserving teaWine Gift Bagchers. I happily take on this challenge but was faced with an interesting challenge. What wine do you get for someone whose wine tastes you are not sure of?

My answers are below and they all share a similar trait; they are fruit driven, silky with soft tannins and are complex. I know the last one is usually lost on most people, but what complexity does is never lost. Complexity simplifies the taste experience. That’s right simplifies it. In a moment a fruit driven, soft tannin, complex wine provides all that the drinker will want. They don’t have to dive into the details to know they enjoy it.

Red Wines

Ca’ Montebello BarberaItaly (click on the name to go to the original review)

Score: 7.9 Over Delivers and I Love It!

Price: ~$13.99 to $15.99

Barbera by nature is very juicy with big grapey and plum flavours. The Ca’ Montebello has a wonderful silky finish and has delightful complexity as a result of the bright acidity and flavour nuances of dried herbs and pepper. Letting it breathe is advised but not necessary.

Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz- Cabernet Sauvignon – Australia

Score: 7.4 Good Drop – I Like It

Price: ~ $16.29-$17.99

The Australians are famous for making hedonistic crowd pleasing wines and the Penfolds winery has lead the way for years. The Shiraz-Cab is big richly flavoured, juicy with flavours of black fruits, red berries, and plums. There is a spicy back end that features baking spices. The finish is juicy and soft making it an ideal gift for those whose palate you are not familiar with.

Fascino Passo Negramaro-Primitivo– Italy

Score: 9.3/10 Best Buy & WOW!!

Price: $17.99 (only available at Everything Wine)

This may seem like an odd choice given that the grapes are not household names, however the Italians have long known the pleasures of hedonistic food and wine and I think these two grapes embody their centuries of practice. Dark fruit of crushed  ripe plums, blackberries, cherries with nuances of savoury spices and the delicate scent of freshly wrapped cigars.

White Wines

Aveleda Vinho Verde – Portugal

Score: 8.9 Over Delivers & I Love It!!

Price: $14.99 – $15.99

This wine is vibrant and alive and I guarantee that every sip brings on a smile no matter the experience of the palate. From northern Portugal this wine has a little bubble (frizzante) with white peach and pear flavours. Chill this down and this will please anyone.

Painted Wolf Chenin Blanc – South Africa

Score: 848/10 Over Delivers & I Love It!

Part of the reason why I love this wine as a gift is because that is how I discovered it. The wine is fresh and alive with great complexity just like the Cape that it hails from. Pear, apple, honeydew melon and brisk freshness. Your gift goes a little further as every bottle means a donation to save the wild Painted Dogs of southern Africa.

Who Would You Like To See On A Q & A

June 19, 2015 § 4 Comments

Dorks & Dorkmen… no no

Dorks, Corks Lend me your ears… no that’s not right

Hey!

I’m planning on a number of Q & A’s as upcoming posts. Who would you like to see a Q & A with?

Let me know by leaving a comment.

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

Best BBQ Wines Under $20 – As of Now

June 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

Can you believe the weather we have had? Two years ago we were talking ‘June’-uary and now this. Wow!

It is no surprise that the number of grills being fired up each evening have increased significantly and I would imagine that the number will increase 10 fold on Father’s Day (forecast for the Victoria area 21C with a few clouds). With this in mind here are my Top Wines for the Barbie that are Under $20 and currently available in the market. Enjoy and please wear an apron, no need in showing up at work on Monday with 3rd degree burns in unmentionable places.

Best BBQ Wine for Steakimage

Tinto Negro Malbec – Over Delivers & I Love It! Score ~ 7.8/10

$13.79 – $14.99

Sorry Alberta but I have to say that the best steak I have ever had in my wine driven travels has been in Argentina. Juicy, thick and so amazingly flavourful that it made be jump up and do the Tango, not that anyone else in the restaurant recognized it as the tango- just some gangly gringo gyrating away.

Part of the reason Argentine steak is so good is because it’s paired with Argentine Malbec. Big, robust, juicy, layered with savoury herbs, black pepper and lavender. Grab a bottle or 10 of the Tinto Negro and I promise you will Love It!

Original Review: TintoNegro Malbec

Best BBQ Wine for Salmon

This category was tough so I took the easy way out and chose two wines that are equally awesome and a great pairing but deliver a totally different flavour experience.

Casa Viva Pinot Noir – Best Buy & WOW!! ~ 9.1image

Silky, cherry explosion with hints of cola and pepper. This wine has it all and is such a great value that I’m surprised that more stores, and by extension, people haven’t found its beauty. When paired with Salmon there is a flavour marriage that is greater than the sum of its parts with the added bonus of a silky seductive finish that relaxes the mind and body.

Original Review: Casa Viva Pinot Noir

Domaine Houchart Cote de Provence Rosé – Over Delivers & I Love It! ~ 8.7/10Houchart Rose

$15.69-$17.99

Bright, vibrant strawberry freshly picked. Add a hint of black pepper and a fresh crisp texture and you have a refreshing glass of luxury. This wine enlivens the palate and when paired with fresh west coast salmon right off the barbie… sky rockets in flight! (If you are over the age of 40 you are now singing the song in your head).

Original Review: Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence Rosé

Best BBQ Wine For White Line Fish (Halibut, Cod)

Lurton les fumees blanches Sauvignon Blanc – Over Delivers & I Love It! ~ 8.6/10image

$13.29 – $14.99

Tis the season for fresh, right off the line Halibut and it is sooo good. Our local cod has to be some of the best in the world as well and both are readily available at your local grocer or, if you’re in the Victoria area, head down to Fisherman’s Wharf and get some right from the boat.

For me this wine had so much going on. It is fresh, it is vibrant, it won’t rip your tongue out with ripping acidity, it has bright stone and tropical fruits along with hints of cut grass and asparagus. Chill it down, not to cold otherwise you cover up the fruit and complexity. My rule of thumb is that if there is condensation on the bottle when it comes out of the fridge, it’s too cold. Wait 8 minutes and then enjoy.

Original Review: Lurton fumees blanches Sauvignon Blanc

Best BBQ Wine For Chicken

Masia F Vino Tinto – Best Buy & WOW!! ~ 9.3/10image

$10.99 – $11.99

I don’t care if you are doing Beer Butt chicken or simply grilling some chicken thighs, legs and/or breasts, there is not a better value on the market than this wine. Many un-oaked wines are one dimensional and lacking in character. To produce a world class wine un-oaked wine it’s all about the vineyard. This wine is unoaked and shows incredible depth, layers of flavours, juicy fruit, spice. When all put together in the glass that sits besides a plated graced with chicken right from the barbie, it is heaven. I guess this is what the Sommelier at the world’s only 7 star hotel (Bariq Al Arab, Dubai) saw to, as the Masia F is their house wine.

Original Review: Masia F Vino Tinto

Best BBQ Wine for Burgers (Beef)

Terra Andina Carmenere – Syrah – Best Buy & WOW!! ~ 9.1/10IMG_0660

$10.99 – $11.99

I picture a big thick burger made of ground Angus beef, slathered with your grandmother’s secret BBQ sauce, a generous amount of melted cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Cambazolla are my faves), thick cut fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions and maybe some mushrooms, mustard, ketchup all within a fresh Pretzel bun… salivation nation! The only thing that makes this better is when it is paired with the right, juicy, bold wine that features dark fruits, red berries, black and white pepper and a supple finish… and that wine is the Terra Andina Carmenere – Syrah.

Original Review: Terra Andina Carmenere Syrah

Best BBQ Wine For Shellfish (Crab, Prawns, Lobster)

Mission Hill ‘5 Vineyards’ Pinot Blanc – Good Drop & I like It ~ 7.0/10IMG_0678

$14.99 – $15.99

Walk through any grocery store this weekend and you will find that they all have fresh Spot Prawns. It is a great time of year for those that love great flavour experiences. Spot Prawns on the barbie with a glass of chilled  BC Pinot Blanc is a reward usually reserved for solving cancer or the federal debt, but is available to you just for grocery shopping or working with gravity to put your but in a chair.

Original Review: Mission Hill ‘5 Vineyards’ Pinot Blanc

Best BBQ Wine for Baby Back Ribs

Fascino Passo – Best Buy & WOW! ~ 9.3/10Fascino Passo 2011

$17.99

Making Baby Back Ribs on the BBQ is an art. An art that brings people to their knees in joy and has humbled many a chef. Timing, temperature and patience are all necessary. A wine, seemingly, specifically crafted for this dish, is the Fascino Passo. This wine is a blend of Negramaro and Primitivo which juicy, richly textured flavours of black and blue berry’s, savoury spices and, yes, cigar box. The grapes are first air dried to intensify their character, then the wine is barrel aged for at least 2 years, followed by 1 year bottle age before release. When opening this wine you want to give it some time to breathe or better yet, run it through your Vinturi. Timing & Patience.

Original Review: Fascino Passo

PS- Hey- You’ll likely notice that in each of the red wine posts suggest letting the wine breathe to get the most out of it. There is an alternative that you will see that I mention. It is for a product that I use myself and absolutely standby its value – the Vinturi Wine Aeratorworks and if you buy it via the link I get a little back that helps pay for the costs associated with the blog. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. The ‘Essential Red’ is all you really need.

PSS – You will see a new donate button on the sidebar and here. If you like this and other posts, click on the Donate button and donate $1 (that is the maximum that I have set). Thank You! Buy Now Button

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked.

Prospect 2013 Larch Tree Hill Riesling

June 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

6.6/10 ~ Good Drop & I Like It!Prospect 2013 Riesling

Price: $11.29- $12.99

It was 25C yesterday afternoon and the thought of having a red wine just seemed wrong. So I marched off to one of the many local stores and went straight for the whites. I walked in the store thinking either Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. I wanted a crisp, lively, vibrant to caress my palate. I know that I haven’t written much about local wines or VQA wines in general so I thought I would take this opp and grab a well priced Riesling from a producer that I know has always made solid wines, so I grabbed the Prospect Riesling (FYI the packaging has been updated from the photo. Still recognizable from the photo but with more quality and heritage cues). Riesling has, ironically, been the darling of cork dorks and low-end wine buyers for generations. The cork dork crowd can wax poetically of the subtle, seductive nuances of a single vineyard Riesling for hours, but that wine is likely $30. It should blow your hair back at that price. On the other end the low-end sweet German generic Rieslings are still the stable of many in the world, however they have always let me down for value. Great value in Riesling means your mouth feels alive, that your words dance off the tongue and everything is dripping with honeyed positivity. This is what I look for in a Riesling and what I want on a warm summer day. Tasting: The colour is bright flinty straw and the nose shows jasmine flavours, honeyed apricots and pears. The palate is fresh, clean, lively and relatively fruity. Value:It does lack some of the nuances and vibrance that would have gotten it an Over Delivers or Best Buy rating, but it does have the stuff worth of a Good Drop rating and I do like it. You certainly won’t be disappointed with this wine as it does offer decent value for the money. Added Value: The first thing that pops into my head when I think of when and where this wine would be most appropriate is either as a Wedding Wine or as a Date Night Wine. Food Pairings: Fresh fruits, salads, mild cheeses. Great for Sea Bass and cod, even a grilled chicken with a citrus salsa. Service: Chill down, twist the cap and serve. Grapes: Riesling Store Section: BC VQA Appellation: Okanagan Available: BC Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Store Alcohol: 12.5% Cheers The Dork UnCorked PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Borsao 2013 Garnacha

June 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

8.7/10 ~ Over Delivers & I Love It!Borsao Garnacha

Price: $13.29- $14.99

“Oh man!” she said “you really have a pair of nards if you think you can get Stone to drink wine.”

“Good news! I have such a pair of nards” I replied. “Here goes”

Wines like this one make me want to share the joy of exploration with everyone, even those that may be dead set against trying anything new or different.

Upon tasting this wine I could see myself at a BBQ with friends and I was doing what I normally do when I come across a wine that I love, especially one that will set you back less than $15.

Garnacha or Grenache is a grape that one could easily love. Soft juicy tannins, doesn’t like too much oaking, has fantastic fresh berry flavours and undertones of black pepper. For this reason it is the backbone of some of the biggest wine crazes and most sought after wines ever seen, and in my opinion for introducing the beauty of wine to new drinkers and generations.

Remember the tsunami of juicy red wines from Australia in the late 90’s? That wave was fuelled in large part by Grenache’s supporting role of Shiraz.

I’m sure you have heard of Chateauneuf de Pape? The wines of Chateauneuf de Pape are prized because of their balance between power, finesse and fresh fruit flavours. What is the backbone of Chateauneuf de Pape you ask? – Grenache.

Tasting: The colour is a deep purple red. The aromas are of crushed raspberry, blueberry, lavender and black pepper, while the palate is juicy, full, richly textured and balanced. The finish is a juicy kiss of purple flowers, juicy berries and black pepper.

Value: This is awesome value for the money. In fact I would suggest that you walk right past the California and Argentine sections and head right to the not-as-crowded-as-it-should-be Spanish section and load up.

Added Value: This wine has added value for so many occasions – it’s a great Date Night, Movie Night, Girls Night Out, Comfort Food, Foodie, Exploration, BBQ wine.

Food Pairings: Anything BBQ’d including burgers, steaks, pork, chicken, even halibut. Also a great pairing for roasted meats, Pizza, cheeses like Gruyere, Gouda and Cheddar.

Service: Twist off the cap and let the pleasure begin.

Grapes: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Spain

Appellation: Borsao

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor

Alcohol: 14.5%

Muga 2014 Rosé

June 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

7.1/10 ~ Good Drop & I Like ItMuga Rose

Price: $15.69-$16.99

I’m a podcast junkie. In fact I almost never listen to the radio in the car anymore, unless I’m with my kids and then I get my quota of pop songs that all sound alike and have the same theme. One of my favourites is the TED Radio Hour. The theme of a recent episode was ‘Storytelling’ and it immediately grabbed my attention. For the last number of years I have been thinking about writing a book. No not another diatribe about tasting wine in fantastic places or about the vagaries of the BC liquor system. Rather a book of fiction.

Wines, unlike other things, seem to tell me a story, either about themselves or about those who also enjoy the wine. This is why this particular podcast grabbed me. Two takeaways from the podcast were ‘tell stories about what you know’ and ‘let the subject should tell a truth about you’. No I am motivated. I seem to have greater clarity as to what and how I am to write my book. What you will find in each post from now on, is I will try to put into words the story the wine is trying to tell me and hopefully, that will also tell me a truth about myself.

The Muga 2014 Rosé gives me the impression that it is the mental floss or ‘romantic comedy’ of this illustrious winery. Muga is a great producer of top quality Rioja. Although each wine is brilliant and showing enticing finesse, they are also very serious wines. You know the type. If this wine was a colleague it would be that guy that is both brilliant, fastidious, and necessary for success, but who would feel totally uncomfortable at a music festival or in a food fight. The Rosé on the other hand shows that the winery has a soft, whimsical spot, that takes the tension away and adds some softness to an otherwise stalwart exterior. In fact, as important as the brilliant, outstanding and fastidious wines are to the winery, it is the Rosé that is the love that makes all the wines a family.

Tasting Notes: This pale pink Rosé has a classic red berry/cherry nose which is repeated on the refreshing, crisp palate. Many Spanish Rosés feature an undertone of black or white pepper spice that is not really evident here, however if you slow down, taste slowly, and let the wine caress the palate in a deliberate manner, then indeed there is just a hint of pepper.

Value: I think I got good value for my money, and I was craving a Rosado, however it didn’t blow me away and I’m not sure I would ‘camp out’ on this one. I’m already thinking of what Rosé I will try next.

Added Value: This wine is really good wine for those looking to explore the whimsical side of Rioja or need a well made wine to pair with a specific dish when the Foodies come over.

Food Pairings: I had this with some light triple cream brie and it worked beautifully. I would say that if you go with young cheeses and some fresh fruit, you will have it nailed.

Service: Chill this wine down, pull the cork and serve.

Grapes: Viura, Garnacha, Tempranillo

Store Section: Spain

Appellation: Rioja

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine

Alcohol: 13.0%

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