April 1, 2017 § Leave a comment
One of the my favourite things to do when in the ‘wine store’ is to scour the shelves in the dark corners. Every store has them and the typical retailer places slow-moving items there.
I find that this is also where you find some great deals, and that is how I came across this weeks wonderful find.
As most of you know I have a great love for Grenache and Grenache blends, so when I saw the Jas du Lauzon languishing in a dark corner of the Cascadia Uptown store, it was a match made in heaven. It was also only $14.99 so it seemed to me that it was must try.
It pours almost black in the glass and has aromas of ripe raspberries, stewed plums, blueberry and black pepper spice.
The palate showed richness, and supple depth with a fresh fruit and spice finish.
Given that most of the time any purchase I make has to stretch across 2-3 meals, a great wine, for me, needs to be food versatile, and this one fit the bill nicely. I had this with Paella one night, chicken the next and finally homemade pizza, and in all cases the wine worked really well, and hence I grade this one as a great buy and it over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $14.99
Blend ~ Grenache, Syrah
Country of Origin ~ France
Region ~ Luberon (Southern Rhone/Provence)
Score ~ 8.2/10
Label ~ Over Delivers!
Purchased at ~ Cascadia Uptown
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December 30, 2015 § 1 Comment
Pamela is not only an accredited Sommelier, but was the Sommelier at the Empress prior to becoming the General Manager of Cascadia Liquor Stores. She is indeed an influencer and has a keen palate for value.
Montelivini Prosecco ~ $14.99 +tax
I Love this Prosecco for both quality and value, doesn’t hurt that it comes in a nice package.
Nicely balanced, fresh with a hint of tree fruit character make this a staff favourite at Cascadia.
Unsworth Charme De L’lle ~ $21.99 +tax
From the Cowichan Valley, delicious Charmat Method sparkling from Unsworth Vineyard.
Our local look alike to a good Prosecco….
Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Rose ~ $25.35 +tax
Traditional method from Bourgogne, France. Made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Perfect balance of soft fruit flavours and fresh acidity, total crowd pleaser.
Thanks again to Pamela Anderson of Cascadia.
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December 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
This week culminates with New Year’s 2016. If you listened to the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour this past week (here is a link to podcast; here is a link to the Show Notes) you would have seen my picks, but I thought it would be cool to see which Sparkling Wines and Champagnes the local pros would pick for themselves.
Over the week you will see posts from Ernest Sargent, Vintage Room Consultant at Everything Wine in Langford, Stacey Brennan, General Manager at Hillside Liquor Store, Pamela Sanderson General Manager at Cascadia Liquor Stores, and Jami Wood of Spinnaker’s James Bay.
I hope you enjoy each selection as I much as I did chatting with each about them.
the Dork UnCorked
September 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.2 ~ Good Drop
If an all powerful being were standing in front of me and saying that they will take away all of my problems and those of my family, but I had could only drink the wines of one region for the rest of my life, it would be Chianti (if any of you reading this are all powerful, give me a ring, let’s talk!).
This wine needs to some time to show its true nature. I tasted this over 3 days and left it open to the air all three days. The first day the nose was muted and the palate fine, and fresh, but it didn’t so much other than some youthful vigour (after all just over 1 year ago this wine was grapes on a vine). Day 2 showed much more. Finesse, refined textures and some good cherry flavours. By Day 3 it was heavenly – wonderfully perfumed, delicious, plum nectar and cherry, velvety finish with some spice and floral characters, depth, depth, depth.
If what I tasted on Day 3 was what I tasted on Day 1 then this would easily have been a Best Buy wine. It’s a good drop, made better by patience. If you have the patience to let it breathe then this is a great buy, if you are like most people and want it to perform in the glass straight away, then there are others I would recommend.
Purchase At: Cascadia Uptown
Food: Great with Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, smoked cheeses.
June 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
6.6/10 ~ Good Drop & I Like It!
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.
May 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
I picked up this wine to indirectly honour the efforts put in by the sale rep here on Vancouver Island. As a former sales rep I can appreciate how much planning and elbow grease it takes to get a new wine to the market in so many stores in such good position.
Tasting Notes: The colour is purple with crimson hues, and nose is brimming with ripe purple and red fruits. There is a whole lot of youth in this wine with just a little hint of spice on the finish. This is very much a sipping wine and less a food wine.
Value: It’s pretty decent value and definitely a good drop however I thought is a little to one dimensional to suggest that it over delivered or was a best buy.
Added Value: This has more value when applied to occasions that require a crowd pleaser wine or for snuggling up on the couch and watching a movie.
Food Pairings: As for food, this worked well with simpler medium weight foods such as veggie or Margarita pizza, creamy mild cheeses, and simple grilled chicken.
Service: Twist the cap and let breathe for 15 minutes or let it run through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Store Section: France
Appellation: Rhone Valley – Did you know that the Rhone Valley lies directly south of another famous French wine region – Burgundy. The story goes the Romans popularized the area as a wine growing region and that Emperor Probus is who introduced Syrah to the valley.
Syrah’s native home is a small town in Northern Iran called Shiraz. Probus loved the wines made from this grape and shipped vines from Iran to Gaul. It is said that he intended on planting these vines further north than the Rhone Valley, but the ship carrying the vines ran aground in the Rhone Valley and that is where the vines were planted. A happy accident for all of us.
Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre
Purchased From: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village.
Also Available At: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Cork & Barrel
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PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
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.
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
Available Cascadia Colwood & Uptown.
Link to the original review: Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcino
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
Available at Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Spinnaker’s James Bay.
Link to original review: Masia F Vino Tinto
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
Available in almost all private stores including Cascadia, Metro, Everything Wine, Hillside Liquor Store
Link to original review: Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah
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
Available in Cascadia, Metro Liquor, Hillside Liquor Store, Everything Wine.
Link to the original review: Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir
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
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!
April 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are about 800 white wines available in BC between the price of $7 & $20. There exist no other category of white wines that is as populated as this one and yet it is the most popular range in the province. That puts a lot of pressure on the purchase to deliver. Here are my picks for Top 5 White Wines For Easter under $20.
It’s a big brand name and for a number of years it tasted like it, however there is a new sheriff in Lindeman’s town and he has been making a true, qualitative difference. I guess the good news about the ‘in between’ years is that it has forced Lindemans to keep their pricing almost the same as it was in 1994 when Bin 65 exploded onto the BC market. In 1994 this wine was $9.99 and now it is $10.10 (taxes included) and now it is polished, balanced, sunshine driven with wonderful spice and pastry notes. It is the whole package and if your friends think you uncool for having it, put it in a brown bag and watch their faces when you show them what they have been drinking.
Score – 9.1/10 Best Buy
Available in most stores.
Link to the original review: Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay
Can we all agree that there is no excuse for not enjoying a sunny Spring day! Aveleda Vinho Verde is Spring in a bottle and is a great addition to any table with a selection of cheeses, fruit, cold cuts and even tapenade. Serve chilled and prepare for a fresh, lively, vivacious muse to grace your Easter weekend.
Score – 8.9/10 Over Delivers
Available in private stores only.
Link to original review: Aveleda 2013 Vinho Verde
The French truly have it going on when it comes to finesse in their wines. Here is a wine that when you look at it you could easily walk right past. I know I did on a number of occasions, that is, until a friend of mine who has devoted thousands of hours to the exploration of French wine, told me that this is, for him, the best white wine under $20 on the market.
It shows bright tree fruit freshness and savoury herbs. It has some weight, making it a good choice with ham, but also has a crisp finish making it great with easy to find cheeses, or just a simple salad.
Score: 8.8/10 Over Delivers
Available in private stores only
Link to original review: Domaine de Grachies 2013
Pinot Gris for many years brought shivers to my spine. I have tasted literally thousands of Pinot Gris’s over the last number of years and I would have to say that I had come to the conclusion that the only value in Pinot Gris/Grigio lied in those showing true terroir which meant they were most often priced at $20+.
However this story is the exact reason why I love wine. There are no absolutes. The moment you think you have it nailed, that you can pronounce a fact about a wine or region, something comes about to radically change your mind and give you hope and desire.
That is what the Lurton Pinot Gris did for me. Here you will find a truly authentic Pinot Gris and seems bereft of the desire to pander to the marketing divisions focus group results. As far as Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio goes, I can honestly say there are not many under $20 that show the finesse, class and authenticity as this wine does.
Score: 8.7/10 Over Delivers
Available in most stores.
Link to the original review: Lurton 2013 Pinot Gris
I struggle with the inclusion of a second Lurton in this list, but my purpose here is to let the quality of the wine for the price, speak for itself, and I would be remiss if I did not include this wine in this Top 5 list.
There is so much pleasure packed into this one bottle of wine. One the one hand it is what you expect from a Sauvignon Blanc -fresh, herbal tree fruit, crisp, and yet there is another level that is floral, bright and brimming with highlights. Then just as you are about to put the glass down there is a parting kiss of tropical fruit. Man o’ man there is a lot going on here and all of it provides a wonderful wine experience.
Score: 8.6/10 Over Delivers
Available in most stores
Link to the original review: Lurton fumess blanches 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
I hope that you have enjoyed this list and from me and my family have a wonderful Easter weekend!
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
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).