December 29, 2015 § 1 Comment
Stacey has been the General Manager of the Hillside Liquor Store since it opened and has justifiably earned the reputation as being on the best buyers and palates in BC. What follows are her picks for New Year’s 2016.
Tsarine Cuvée Premium Brut Champagne ~ $64.99 +tax
Tsarine Cuvée Premium Brut Champagne (beautiful bottle!) champagnes second oldest house,
It was made in honour of the Russian Empire in 1730, the swirl bottle represents the St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Decanter World Wine Awards Gold Medal Winner 2010. “Fine and delicate bubbles with notes of lime flowers and lemon balm, bitter orange and quince- fresh and crisp!”
Summerhill Winery Cipes Brut ~ $23.49 +tax
Summerhill Winery Cipes Brut- Gold BC Wine Awards 2015 & sparkling wine of the year All Canadian Wine Awards 2014. “Aromas of Apple, lime, pear, almonds, and grapefruit. Crisp acidity, a soft creamy mousse and long finish.”
Dom Perignon David Lynch Limited Edition 2003 Champagne ~ 199.99 +tax
Dom Perignon David Lynch Limited Edition 2003- “aromas start sweet, bright, mineral and floral- followed by candied fruit, plants, camphor leaf and dark hints of spices and licorice root. The palate is at first mild and delicate, then confidently mineral and persistent with a refined bitterness and saline tang” $199.99 + tax
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
December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are lots of new spirits that have made their way onto the shelves of your local bottle shop in recent weeks. I was chatting with Stacey Brennan of the Hillside Liquor Store (North Dairy and Shelbourne in Victoria) about which items really tickled her fancy and this what she said.
Legend Distilling Blasted Brew Coffee Liqueur ~ $26 + Tax
Legend Handmade Vodka and locally roasted organic coffee from Backyard Beans in Summerland come together to create a spiked coffee exploding with flavour. Hints of dark chocolate and vanilla mingle with the smooth flavour of cold brewed coffee to create this unique craft liqueur. Perfect sipped on it’s own or in your favourite coffee cocktail.
Legend has it, blasting through rock to build the Kettle Valley Railway was dangerous work, especially during winter, when the explosives would get a little frosty. When workers slept in late, they’d have to make up for lost time by defrosting the dynamite in a roasting pan over an open campfire. You can probably guess how the story ends… let’s just say their railroad careers were a ‘flash in the pan’. Don’t fall asleep on the job, keep your eyes wide open with a sip or two of our spiked cold coffee brew.
Ingredients: Legend Handmade Vodka, Organic Coffee, Demerara Sugar, Raw Cocoa Nibs, Pure Vanilla Extract.
375ml – 24% ALC
as you no doubt surmised, Legend Distilling is a craft distiller based on the Naramata Bench just outside of Penticton. Link to Website
Sheringham Distilleries Seaside Gin ~ $25 + tax 375ml, $42 + tax 750ml
Citrus, floral and notes of the sea make our Gin as refreshing as a seaside stroll.
Elegant for sipping and noble in your favourite cocktail…clean as the South Island surf.
Made from B.C. organic white wheat, B.C. malted barley, natural botanicals and sustainable hand-harvested local winged kelp (Alaria marginata).
VOLUME 750mL + 375mL
Sheringham Distillery is located in the metropolis of Shirley on Vancouver Island (about 1 hour up the coast from Victoria). Link to Website
Merridale Cowichan Vodka ~ $46.99 + tax 750ml
Made entirely from B.C. fruit and distilled in our hand-crafted copper still to create a silky, soft finish. To further enhace the smoothness, our true craft vodka is mellowed for over three years in stainless steel and then cold-filtered through charcoal. The result is a round, full-bodied spirits that pours cool and clean across your tongue. Enjoy it neat, over ice, or in your favourite cocktail.
Merridale Cidery and Distillery is an apples throw away from Mill Bay on Vancouver Island. Link to Website
Stacey Brennan is the GM of the Hillside Liquor Store and knows her stuff. You can contact her or any of the staff at the store click the link to their website for contact info and hours.
The Dork UnCorked
December 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Episode 7 – Link to Podcast
Segment 1 ~ In the News
Strange bedfellows kissed and made up this week in the form the BCGEU & the BCPLSA (BC Public Liquor Stores Association). The two organizations announced that they believe that recreational marijuana retailing should be restricted to liquor stores, if and when it becomes legal to do so.
Segment 2 ~ Brown Baggin’ It
A fun Christmas Party idea is to do a Brown Bag event.
The host supplies brown lunch bags. As guests bring their entries they put their bottle in a bag and number it. Throughout the evening guests taste the wines and rate which is their favourites. At a specific time the wines are revealed and prices stated. Invariably there are many surprises.
I suggest that you limit the price to something like under $20. If you will have both red & white entries it is best to have two competitions, one for red and one for white.
Segment 3 ~ Recommended Wines for Brown Baggin’ It
Terre Prosecco ~ $18 and a brilliant palate cleanser and crowd pleaser. Only available in private stores. Top pick by Dork UnCorked’s Sparkling Wine Correspondent Stacey Brennan of the Hillside Liquor Store (across from Hillside Mall on North Dairy).
Surprises make this event fun so I often enter wines that very few people are aware off, but offer incredible value. Here are a few suggestions for both red and white.
Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo (Spain) ~ $10 private stores only
Periquita (Portugal) ~ $10 both private and public stores
The Den Pinotage (South Africa) ~ $15 private stores only
Hester Creek Pinot Gris (BC) ~ $16 750ml $44 3L (750ml equivalent – $11)
Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) ~ $17 private stores only
Aveleda Vinho Verde (Portugal) ~ $15 private stores only
Segment 4 – Best Buy of the Week
This weeks Best Buy is the Francois Lurton Les Fumees Blanches. On sale at government stores in Dec. for $11.99 this is a killer white wine. Look for it in the French section.
Next Week – Grannies Shortbread
April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Classic Rosé is perhaps one of the most romantic wines there is. Just one whiff of the aromas and a peek at the colour and you will immediately transport yourself to a grassy hill covered with rosemary and lavender, over looking the Mediterranean sea. You look up towards the sun and you can feel its warmth envelope your soul. There is a gentle breeze on your cheek. You take a glance over at your soul mate and she/he has the same smile of pleasure. Without saying a word your pour yourselves a nice glass of chilled Rosé, pop a few fresh strawberries in your mouth, grab some baguette that you purchased fresh, not more than an hour ago. After a few morsels you lose yourselves in the present and …..
Tasting Notes: The colour is salmon, light pink rose. The aromas show fresh strawberries, cranberry and hints of white pepper. The palate… the palate is where the romance is. The texture is crisp almost crunchy, which brings out the fresh strawberry and red tree fruit characters. This wines truly refreshes the palate… and soul.
Value: This is a classic southern French Rosé and as such stands out. If you would like to see why the French, Spanish and Italians choose Rosé first and foremost over their summers, this wine will show you the way.
Added Value: This wine truly shines on Date Nights and as a BBQ Wine for seafood or Salmon BBQ’s.
Food Pairings: Great choice for Cedar Plank Salmon, salads, fresh fruit and light creamy cheeses. Perhaps the best pairing is a view, a blanket, a baguette, some cheeses & fruits, and a summer afternoon to spend together.
Service: Chill down and enjoy.
Store Section: France
Appellation: Cotes de Provence – This region is the same that you have read about in Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence. The summer air is warm and enveloping and has the scent of Thyme, Rosemary and lavender. Romance is everywhere.
Grapes: Grenache, Syrah
Available: Hillside Liquor Store, BC Liquor Stores
The Dork UnCorked
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!