June 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of the things about the wine business is that it is a business of passion. I can tell you there isn’t a lot of money in it, and if you were to ask anyone involved they are not in it for the money, they are in it because they love it. So it is sad when you hear that a talented, passionate importer has decided to pack up and move to a different industry because he can’t make ends meet. The silver lining however is that he has reduced the prices on a number of products in his portfolio. Including the Alba de los Infantes 2009 Gran Reserva.
For those that don’t know for a Spanish wine to be called Gran Reserva is must be aged 2 years in barrel and further 3 years in bottle. What this means is that the wine grower and the wine maker saw something in the quality of the grapes and resulting wine that was special. So special that they decided to assume the added cost of a min. 5 years of ageing.
Typically the price for a Gran Reserva wine from Spain starts at the $22 mark and goes up, way up from there. So when the importer told me what the ‘clearance’ price was I started to salivate. It took a while for me to find some bottles in stores, but when I did I was over the moon.
It is not too often that a wine gets a Best Buy rating from me, as it truly needs to punch well above its weight to do so, but this is one.
Price ~ $12.99
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
It may only be $13 but please let it breathe for at least 30 minutes. If you do you will be rewarded.
The colour is a dark red/purple and the nose shows bright red and blue berries, with some spice and leather.
The palate shows a ton of fresh fruit, while the texture is supple and richly textured. The finish shows generous berry and black tree fruits along with some sensuous savoury spices.
I know that I will be buying this by the case.
This weekend all the dad’s in the family will be enjoying a barbeque, and that is exactly what I would recommend for this wine. Slow roasted ribs, grilled meats, chicken. This would also be a delight with some medium aged cheeses right up to some top quality manchego.
Grapes ~ Tempranillo, Garancha
Store Location ~ Spain
Availability ~ Limited to private stores. I got mine from Spinnaker’s James Bay.
June 3, 2016 § Leave a comment
As you know the purpose of this blog is to provide useful reviews of wines under $20. The goal is to weed through the plethora of inexpensive wine to find the true values. This wine perfectly encapsulates this.
This wine didn’t have a sale tag but, for those in the know, it is significantly under priced for it’s appellation. Cotes du Rhone-Villages is one cut above Cotes du Rhone, yet most Cotes du Rhone’s on the market are in the $20 range. With that in mind, this wine had all the potential of being a truly magical find.
Price ~ $14.99
Score ~ 6.8 Good Drop
It is a good wine, but it didn’t wow me like I was hoping. For the cork dork looking for elegance and finesse as expressed by bright acidity and relatively delicate palate, this is a great wine. However for those looking for the boldness one comes to expect from Rhone wines, you will not find it here.
I loved exploring this wine as it unfolded on my palate. Cerebraly it kept my attention glass after glass, but it left friends over for a barbeque, wonting.
The nose shows savoury spices, raspberry and dark plum. The palate is medium bodied and filled with complexity if you choose to let it show.
For food pairings, this is great for chicken and pork on the grill and certainly cheeses like mild Gouda.
Grapes ~ Grenache, Syrah, Carignan
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both private and public stores.
May 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
I recall a time when I thought beer either can in a bottle with a blue label or a bottle with a red label. In fact there was a time that, like in politics, families were either Labatt Blue or Molson Canadian families. Those times have long since past and the diversity in beer choices rivals that of wine choices.
At the beginning of the craft beer renaissance there was a lot of talk about Belgian beers and Belgian brewing. It was at this time I was introduced to the multi-time World Beer Champion – Gulden Draak.
Price ~ $4.00 (330ml), $8-$10 (750ml)
Score ~ 9.1 Best Buy
Right away you can tell that you are not dealing with your run of the mill brew. At 10.8% alcohol it is a bit of a monster that pours dark brown in the glass. The nose shows caramel and Christmas cake, with generous malty greatness. The palate is big and broad. Caramel, toffee, candied fruit and nuts dominate the flavours, while the finish makes you think of the holidays and is dry.
As much as the above breaks things down, I think the beauty of this beer is in the whole package. There is a whole lot going on and it is all really enjoyable.
I went to the Van Steenberge website and found a very cool looking cocktail of all things – replace the Irish Whisky in an Irish Coffee with Gulden Draak. This is now on my list of things to do.
As for food pairings, this would be ideal with stews, hearty meat based pastas, smoked cheeses, and, yes chocolate.
May 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
I know that this is a little backwards, but you know what, that is just the way this is going to roll.
Heather from Charelli’s Cheese Shop & Delicatessen was good enough to drop by with a very impressive cheese platter, designed with Mother’s Day in mind.
A word to the wise, if you are looking to order a cheese plate for Mother’s Day, do so Thursday or Friday this week at the latest (once you see the platter you will know why.) To order it is best to call at 250-598-4794.
There was lot’s to cover and lots of great cheese was enjoyed. Below you will find the name of each cheese, a brief description and the wine that I would suggest to go with each. At the bottom of the page I will make some suggestions that should work with the whole platter.
A creamy, ‘tender’ cow’s milk cheese from France. Savory herb and spice flavours.
Red – Lighter bodied wine liked Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. I’m thinking specifically the Cono Sur Bicicletta Pinot Noir (Chile, $11)
White – Sparkling or Pinot Gris. Zinck Cremant d’Alsace (France, $22), Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris (BC, $18)
Beer – A good Pale of Amber Ale.
Balsamic & Onion Cheddar
Wow, lots of great savoury flavours all rolled together. I could nibble this all day. Savoury Balsamic, sweet onion & cheddar. Awesome.
Red – Gabbiano Chianti Classico (Italy, $18) or Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza (Spain, $18)
White – Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (Italy, $15), Campogrande Orvieto (Italy, $18)
Beer – Belgian Dubbel or Tripel
This cheese has a really interesting story to go along with its generous sweet earthy aromas and flavours.
Made the same way for 4000 years this is a sheeps milk cheese made only from Red or Black faced Manech ewes that are native to the French Basque region. It takes 6 gallons of milk, just to make 1 wheel.
Red – Albas Infantes Gran Reserva 2007 (Spain, $14, private stores only), Masia F Tempranillo ($12, Spain, private stores only)
White – Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay (BC, $19), Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay (Australia, $13)
Beer – A nice lager like the Hoyne Pilsner.
This cheese comes from the US and is a Goat Cheese that has a little sliver of ash through the middle. The ash is tasteless and acts and as a natural ‘cleanser’. The cheese is definitely a goat cheese but also has citrus y element. I love goat cheeses and this was a dream, especially the slightly runny part just inside the rind.
Red – Red wine is not the perfect pairing for this cheese, but if you insist on red it should be something with bright acidity, fresh fruit and some earthy character like either a Gamay Noir or Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir – McPherson ‘The Butterfly’ Pinot Noir (Australia, $15)
Gamay Noir – Regnie Maison de Buillaits (France, $20)
White – There is only one type of wine I would recommend with this cheese and that is Sauvignon Blanc!
Lurton Fumees Blanches (France, $14), or Sileni Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, $19)
Beer – Steamworks Jasmine IPA (BC, $6), it is the gentle floral quality of this brew that makes it special for the Humboldt Fog.
Manchego comes from the home of Don Quixote, the plains of La Mancha in central Spain. This sheep’s milk cheese can have grassy flavours if it is young, the one that Charelli’s brought is middle aged and has more of a combination nutty, fruity, grassy kind of flavour. Manchego is one of my go to cheeses when I am at home.
Red – I’m partial to Garnacha with this cheese although I could be talked into a good Tempranillo or Portuguese Castelao.
Garnacha – Borsao Garnacha (Spain, $14).
Tempranillo – Masia F Tempranillo (Spain, $12)
Castelao – Ermelinda Monte de Baia (Portugal, $13)
White – My best pick would be of a Chardonnay that has a little age to it. Something from 2012. Sadly these are little harder to find.
Chardonnay – DMZ Chardonnay (South Africa, $19)
Viognier – Le Paradou Viognier (France, $15)
Beer – A Kolsch (lagered ale) would be great – Spinnaker’s Tour de Victoria Kolsch (Victoria, $12, 6 Pack Cans).
St. Agur is a creamy blue cheese, but not as intensely blue as traditional blue cheese. For this reason it is very versatile. It can be pretty runny which makes it great for dipping.
Aged for 60 days, this cheese has a ton of flavour which makes it a great choice for a cheese plate as it balances the more subtle cheeses.
All I can think about is Port with this cheese, but here are some everyday pairings that will also work.
Red – This cheese would love a big rich, juicy full flavoured red like an Aussie Shiraz or California Zinfandel, and for those a little more adventurous I would go Nero D’Avola or Monastrell/Mouvedre.
Aussie Shiraz – Skulls Shiraz (Australia, $20)
California Zinfandel – Paso Creek Zinfandel (California, $16)
Nero D’Avola – Cusumano Ner D’Avola (Italy, $16)
Monastrell/Mouvedre – El Petite Bonhomme (Spain, $14)
White – Big juicy, unctuous Chardonnay is the ticket.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay – (Australia, $15)
Road 13 Stemwinder Chardonnay Blend – (BC, $16)
Beer – nice malty brew seems to be the best bet here.
Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Ale – (UK, $3, 330ml)
Gulden Draak – (Belgium, $4, 330ml)
This dutch cheese is best known for being low in fat and sodium, and that could contribute to why it is so popular, but my guess is that it is more about the fact that it may be reduced in fat and sodium but it is huge in flavour.
Cantenaar is a medium gouda that offers delightful nutty , buttery flavour.
Red – this cheese is a crowd pleaser and deserves a crowd pleasing wine to go with it.
Grenache – Gayda ‘Flying Man’ Grenache (France, $15)
White – just like the above, I would go with a versatile wine that almost everyone will love.
Prosecco – Ogio (Italy, $17)
Pinot Gris – Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Grigio (BC, $16)
The pairings noted above are to go with each specific cheese, which would be great but you will be left with about 12 bottles of wine to purchase which may not be to feasible, so here are a few suggestions for Mother’s Day that will work with the entire cheese plate, and are versatile crowd pleasers.
Borsao Garnacha – (Spain, $14)
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir – (Chile, $11)
Masia F Tempranillo – (Spain, $12)
Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Grigio (BC, $16)
Campogrande Orvieto (Italy, $18)
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay (Australian, $13)
Ogio Prosecco – (Italy, $17)
Hoyne Pilsner – (Victoria, $6, 650ml bottle)
Spinnaker’s Tour de Victoria Kolsch – (Victoria, $12, 6 Cans)
Well I hope this is helpful and that you enjoy a wonderful Mother’s Day.
the Dork UnCorked