Picks of the Pros: Ernest Sargent- Everything Wine

December 28, 2015 § 1 Comment

What the pros would pick for themselves for New Year’s 2016. Today’s installment comes from Ernest Sargent the Vintage Room Consultant at Everything Wine in Langford.

Here’s my picks – not a Champagne among them…

Conde de HaroMuga Conde de Haro Brut Cava ~ $28

For me, as I was only allowed to pick one (close runner up is the Henriot Rosé Champagne ($80)),  it would be the Muga Conde de Haro Brut Cava. This is the best Cava I’ve tasted in a long time.  Beautiful balance between the apple, apple skin and citrus flavours with a touch of honey thrown in.  What puts this one over the top for me is the long and complex finish.  An absolute winner!!

Road 13 Sparkling Chenin BlancRoad 13 2011 Sparkling Chenin Blanc ~ $40

For my family (because they deserve the best), my favourite of the many quality sparkling wines that are now coming out of BC, the 2011 Road 13 Sparkling Chenin Blanc.  I love the fresh fruit on this wine that pairs so nicely with the acidity and the slight touch of yeast.  A top quality wine from one of BC’s best wineries and if I give it my family, chances are I’ll get some too.

Blu Giovello ProseccoBlu Giovello Prosecco ~ $21

For my friends – the Blu Giovello Prosecco from Piera Martellozzo.  This Extra-Dry Prosecco, beautifully presented in its unforgettable blue bottle, has just a touch of fruity sweetness but carries enough acid to give it balance.  It showcases the classic peach and citrus flavours you get from the Glera grape.  A fun wine to share with fabulous friends.

Ernest Sargent

Ernest is an ISG accredited Sommelier and all round brilliant guy. For me Ernest has proven his eye for real value on a number of occasions.

Cielo 2014 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie

April 30, 2015 § 1 Comment

Score: 6.6 ~ Good Drop image

Price: $13.99

Do you know what the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio is? It’s subtle and with the explosion of Pinot Grigio on the market, the lines have been blurred. Pinot Grigio is about freshness, citrus and minerality in a light bodied wine. It is something simple and refreshing and that is its beauty. On the other hand Pinot Gris should have more body, show tree & tropical fruit flavours and be far more complex. I don’t hold one over the other as each has their place. The trick is to be in the frame of mind to truly enjoy each.

Tasting Notes: This is a simple classic Pinot Grigio. It is pale straw, flinty green in colour and shows good citrus fruits with a mineral backbone. The palate is light and straightforward, while the finish is crisp and clean with just a hint of pear on the finish.

Value: At $10.99, the sale price, this is a steal, at $13.99, regular everyday price, it is a good drop that you won’t be disappointed in.

Added Value: This wine would have added value for Girls Night Out or on Date Night.

Food Pairings: This is a great wine for simple fair. Grilled trout or chicken breast, but perhaps best with a simple plate of fresh fruit, light cheeses, baguette and some nuts.

Service: Chill down and serve.

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Veneto – The ‘delle Venezie’ region is primarily clay and volcanic soils with some health elements of limestone thrown in the mix. This and the rolling hills of the region account for the citrus and mineral flavours that come through with classic Pinot Grigio.

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Available: Everything Wine

ABV%: 12.0%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Bonpas 2012 Costieres de Nimes

April 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.8 ~ Over DeliversBonpas Costieres de Nimes

If I had to be a French peasant during the 17th & 18th centuries, I would hope I was living in Costieres de Nimes. When I look at the label of this wine I picture a Noble Manor replete in oil paintings of Grand Dukes and Duchesses. Around the side of the castle is the stables where 10 white steeds are groomed and rode each day. The peasants who work the vineyards and make the wine must have been the happiest of their lot. I know I would be if my beverage at lunch and dinner were this wine.

Price: $15.49

Tasting Notes: The colour is dark crimson/purple and the aromas are very complex for a wine of this price. Violets and rosemary, raspberry, cherry and licorice. The palate is of medium weight and shows layers of flavours that reflect the aromas. The finish is soft, velvety and features dark red berries, lavender and pepper.

Value: I think this wine over delivers for the price, certainly more so than many others in the price point, but its real value will come to those who already enjoy the fruits of the French vine.

Added Value: This wines has added value for Foodies as it is a great pairing for grilled and roasted meats. This is also a great wine for those looking to explore the wines of the Rhone and Languedoc regions of France.

Food Pairings: I would go with pulled pork first and foremost, but classic pairings of grilled and roasted meats are also fantastic

Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 20 minutes or so. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, give this wine a run through a few times.

Store Section: France

Appellation: Costieres de Nimes – this region is the southernmost in the Rhone Valley, although it was one of the first to have grapes planted by the Romans. In the 16th and 17th centuries the wines of the Costieres were the wines of choice for the Papal cellars. This is when the wine culture of region really took hold.

Mostly red grapes are planted, however some absolutely opulent and delicious white wines can be found here.

2013 is considered to be one of the best vintages from over the last 5 years.

Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre

Available: Everything Wine(Exclusive)

ABV%: 13.5%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Fascino Passo 2011

April 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

Fascino Passo 2011Score: 9.3 ~ Best Buy

You know how some scents can instantaneously transport you back in time. My grandfather used to smoke White Owl cigars and when I was a kid I used to climb up onto his lap and he would tell me stories of his hockey playing days. His favourite cardigan held the subtle scent of a freshly unwrapped cigar. Some of my best and favourite memories of being with my grandfather automatically invoke the wonderful, delicate aroma of an unwrapped cigar. As I first opened this wine and put my nose to it, I was immediately transported back to my grandfather’s lap. It brought a smile both to my face and heart.

Price: $17.99

Tasting Notes: The colour is dark red with violet highlights on the edges. The aromas show red tree fruit such as cherries, ripe black plums, hints of violet and licorice and something that I absolutely adore, the scent of a freshly unwrapped cigar. The palate is velvety, juicy, well balanced and of medium to full weight. Flavours of cherries, leather, savoury spices, dried plums and pepper come alive. The finish is almost silky and juicy with a final cherry kiss at the end.

Value: This is a case buy for sure. After my first purchase I have gone back and grabbed few more bottles. If I have $18 to spend I would be hard pressed not to make this my choice if I were having lamb, beef, or just a simple platter of cheese and charcuterie.

Added Value: This wine really shines as a BBQ Wine, Comfort Food Wine and because of its sultry, velvety nature, as a Date Night Wine. I would also highly recommend this wine to anyone who is looking to explore either unique grape types or regions.

Food Pairings: As mentioned above, this wine works beautifully with roasted or grilled beef or lamb, but my favourite pairing is a simple platter of cheeses, cold cuts, olive oil and some olives.

Service: Room temperature is best and let it breathe for a good 20-30 minutes. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, run the wine through a couple of times and you are good to go.

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Salento – The Salento region of Italy is on the heel of the Italian boot. As you can imagine it is a very warm region which produces voluptuous red wines that are very dark in colour. Did you know that Primitivo is the Italian cousin of California’s Zinfandel. Have a little fun and try a Cali Zin beside a Salento Primitivo and sense the differences.

Grapes: Negromaro, Primitivo

Available: Everything Wine

ABV%: 13.0%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Top 5 Red Wines for Easter 2015

April 3, 2015 § 1 Comment

I can still recall a time not that long ago when red wine sales were a fraction of those of white wine. It was cool to order a glass of “dry white wine”. Then reports hit the media that red wine had restorative properties and a glass or two a day was recommended for healthy living, so the pendulum rapidly swung in the opposite direction. At one point in the early 2000’s red wine represented 90% of all wine sales. The pendulum has again started to swing back and now 6 of every 10 bottles of wine purchased are red. The selection of red wine doubles that of white, with the vast majority being priced between $7 & $20. Finding wines that represent true bang for your buck is a a great challenge and one that I happily have embarked upon.

Here are my Top 5 Red Wines for Easter 2015 that are currently on the shelves.

1) Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcinoimage

Truly one of the Best Buys on the market no matter what the price. Although it is showing a little weariness from its peak, it still represents incredible value. Lush, complex, expressive, deep, succulent, silky are all words that could be applied to this wine. Looks for aromas and flavours of ripe and sour cherries, savoury herbs, plum, subtle white and black pepper spice. The palate is silky and complete from start to finish.

Rosso di Montalcino is the little brother of Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello is one of the world’s most sought after, iconic wines in the world and the price reflect that (average $60-90/bottle). Rosso is a younger expression of Brunello and thus is usually about half the price ($30-$45/bottle). When this wine hit the shelf at $16.99 I was more than a little suspect, but was I pleasantly surprised. I think my own enjoyment of this wine could be approaching 36-40 bottles since its release.

The only challenge here is finding it. As far as I can tell there are only a couple of stores that currently have stock and that is dwindling. When you do find it, open it and give it a couple of hours to blossom.

Score – 9.4/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$16.99

Available Cascadia Colwood & Uptown.

Link to the original review: Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcino

2) Masia F Vino Tintoimage

I first bought this wine because it looked like the kid on the playground that always gets picked last. Here is a wine whose packaging is not going to sell it, in fact, in a retail setting, the packaging makes it disappear on the shelf. Am I ever glad that I took the chance. If I didn’t know the price I had paid for it, I would have pegged it at around $16-$18/bottle. For $12.99 this is a steal.

Aromas are both fruit, floral and savoury herbs. While the palate is round, soft and very flavourful. Look for plum and red berry flavours, black pepper, hints of violet and velvety smooth.

Like the Rosso di Montalcino above, this is a hard one to find, but when you do buy it by the case.

Score – 9.3/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$12.99

Available at Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Spinnaker’s James Bay. 

Link to original review: Masia F Vino Tinto

3) Terra Andina Carmenere-SyrahIMG_0660

I have been enjoying this wine for over 15 years. My first taste of it was in Chile while on a buying trip. It was one of the few wines on the trip that showed ripe fruit, complex flavours, and a round, rich texture. It was indeed available in BC, however the price was around $14.99-$15.99. Now that it is hovering around the $10 mark, and has only improved over the years (more mature vines), it is a steal. In fact if you are planning a wedding or having a whole bunch of people over for Easter dinner, and need multiple bottles of something, go out and get a case.

Aromas of ripe plum and dark berries and black cherry. Under the fruit you will sense savoury spices, hints of clove and perhaps even a touch of bacon. The palate shows similar flavours and is juicy, ripe and round.

Score: 9.1/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$10.99

Available in almost all private stores including Cascadia, Metro, Everything Wine, Hillside Liquor Store

Link to original review: Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah

4) Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noirimage

Good Pinot Noir can be seductive, sultry and very sexy. I have heard some people suggest that great Pinot Noir doesn’t have aromas but pheromones. By no stretch of the imagination does this wine compete with the greats of Burgundy, New Zealand, BC and California, but it does have many of the characteristics of the greats, but at 20% of the price.

There now exist many quality Pinot Noirs on the market under $20, but few have the combination of complexity, flavour and texture that this one has. Look for aromas and flavours of dark cherry, earth, black raspberry, black pepper and a delicate hint of cloves. The texture is silky and seductive, so much so that one should be in a resting position to enjoy this as it is kind of like a nice neck rub or massage.

Score: 9.1/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$14.99

Available in Cascadia, Metro Liquor, Hillside Liquor Store, Everything Wine.

Link to the original review: Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir

5) Artesa 2010 Rioja
IMG_0724

I love the wines of the Rioja (a close second to this one is the Lopez de Haro 2010 Rioja Crianza). The red wines of this region are a wonderful blend of elegance, perfume, ripe fruit, texture and power. For a cork dork like me, I can get lost in a wine like as it takes me on a trip through the hills, valleys and simple cafes of the region.

The Artesa shows lush ripe berry and plum fruit, is wonderfully perfumed, and has the power to stand up to a thick steak, while having the elegance to enhance the nuances of more delicate meats. I would highly recommend this wine if you are having a classic Easter Ham this weekend.

Score: 9.1/10 Over Delivers

Price: ~$14.99

Available in Metro Liquor, Cascadia Liquor Stores.

Link to the original review: Artesa 2010 Rioja

I hope that you have enjoyed this list and from me and my family have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Cheers

Dork UnCorked

Domaine de Grachies 2013

March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

imageScore: 8.8 – Over Delivers

Price: $13.99-$15.99

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

Buy OnLine: Metro Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Firefly Wines & Ales

Alcohol: 11.5%

Aveleda 2013 Vinho Verde

March 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

imagePrice: $14.99

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

Alcohol: 11.5%

Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir

February 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

imagePrice: $14.99-$16.99

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,

Alcohol: 14.5%

Gabriel Meffre ‘Plan de Dieu’ 2013 Cotes Du Rhone Villages

February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

imagePrice: $17.99

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,

Alcohol: 13.5%

Lurton 2013 Pinot Gris

February 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Price: $14.99 (Feb. 2015 – $13.99)image

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

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 13.5%

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