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 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had a long chat with a fellow veteran of the liquor industry and put me in a nostalgic mood.
Back in the late 90’s VQA and BC Wines were still on fringe of wine culture, and most of the brands that we take for granted today were start-ups.
This was the case for Tinhorn Creek. In 1998 the agency I was running became the sales agent for Tinhorn Creek. Previous to that Kenn and Sandy were selling their wine out of the back of their car. The labels were a sea foam green 3/4 wrap that feature a metallic burgundy creek running down the middle. The whites showed biting acidity and it wasn’t unusual to find ‘wine diamonds’ at the bottom of the bottles. With all that said, it wasn’t hard to see the quality and potential of the winery.
Another reality of the time was that every BC winery had a Gewurztraminer and most of them were off-dry to sweet, but Tinhorn’s was drier and the wine brought out loads of flavours.
Price ~ $16 (almost exactly what it was in 1998)
Score ~ 8.2 Over Delivers
The nose is brimming with spices, melon, pear and generous lychee nut. The palate is alive refreshing with a finish that gives a spicy, lychee, pear kiss to the taster.
The get the most out of this wine just chill it down a few degrees so that the bottle is cool to touch (should take about 1 hour in a normal fridge), then serve with either seafood including prawns, anything curried, salads (especially those with fruits in them), and grilled chicken.
Grapes ~ Gewurztraminer
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ In both private and public stores
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May 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
We had the folks over for dinner last week and I wanted to provide a wine that is from a road less traveled.
We often think of Italy as red wine producer and it would be easy to overlook a lot of their white wines, but that would be a mistake as there is a world of diversity and incredibly expressive wines to discover.
The Soave region is found in the Northeast of Italy in the region of Veneto, and the primary grape is Garganega. At one point, in the 80’s and 90’s Soave wines were some of the most plentiful in BC. No fewer than 25 graced the shelves of your local liquor store. However times have changed and there is only a handful of options most of which can only be found in specialty stores. So when I spied the Bolla Soave at the very reasonable price of $11 it made perfect sense.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 6.7 Good Drop
The trick to enjoying Soave is to pair it with food. This is when it really comes alive. The nose on the Bolla Soave is a little shy to start so make sure you have it at the right temp. If you take it out of the fridge and there lots of condensation, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes and let it warm up. The nose will show classic notes of melon and red apple, that are matched on the palate.
As I said the trick to enjoying Soave is to have it with food and typically this means grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, and lighter fare. We had it with pork tenderloin and it was pretty decent, would make an okay everyday wine but didn’t wow me.
Grapes ~ Garganega
Store Section ~ Italy
Availability: Both private and public stores.
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April 1, 2016 § 2 Comments
Castelao, Castelao, Castelao! If you say that 3 times fast wine miracles happen I promise.
I was in the liquor store the other day and ran into a friend of mine who is on the floor as a product consultant. It was great to catch up to her and I was reminded that we are all looking for a great glass of wine.
I told her I was looking for a killer wine but it had to be under $20. She looked both ways, looked back at me and said, “come over here.” We silently strolled past a few other people in the store and went to the Portuguese section. She silently reached down and picked the bottle up. After staring at it with a smile for a few seconds she handed it to me and said “this one.”
Price ~ $11.29-$12.99
Score ~ 7.4/10
This one is called Monte da Baia from the Ermelinda winery in Portugal. It is a blend of Castelao, Touriga Nacional and Syrah. The nose shows blackberry, plum and black cherry. The spice offers some dark cocao, but what is truly amazing is this sense that I’m tasting the soul of mother nature. I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m telling you there is an earthy sense, that slows the heartbeat to slow down, makes you feel connected to something more than a collection of grapes, tanks, a label and some words.
For food I would suggest simply grilled steak, or chicken with BBQ sauce. A roast ham would do well to. Perhaps a Ham and Pepperoni pizza.
Grapes ~ Castelao, Touriga Nacional, Syrah
Store Section ~ Portugal
Availability ~ both public and private stores.
PS- below is a link to the Wine Folly book on Amazon. Yes this is an affiliate program and it helps us keep the blog going, having said that I highly recommend this book and use it myself. It is colourful easy to read book that you can have a resource. Enjoy.
March 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
2015 is the most anticipated vintage in recent memory. The world over 2015 was one of the best vintages, so as I was strolling through the ‘candy’ store looking for a Pinot Noir I spied a 2015 and grabbed it.
The reason we are seeing 2015 light bodied red wines from South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia is because the growing season is opposite to ours in the southern hemisphere. Medium and full bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz & Malbec will likely appear in a couple of years. Expect to see 2015 whites and rosés from the northern hemisphere in the next few months.
The Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir has consistently over delivered for as many vintage as I can remember, so my expectations were kind of high. Not only was I expecting a strong showing due to consistency, but add on the 2015, and I was expecting a lot.
The good news this wine does totally over deliver for the price. Amongst Pinot Noirs of this price range, this would easily be in my top 2. I’m not so sure the quality of the vintage showed through as much as I was expecting, but given my overall enjoyment of the wine I would say the 2015 is a testament to the truly high quality for the price of previous vintages.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 7.7/10 Over Delivers
The nose shows cherry, cola and strawberry, while the palate has a lovely silky texture. As for the finish there is some fresh cherry and black pepper just to entice you into a second glass.
I would pair this with a nice gouda cheese, grilled or roasted poultry, pasta marinara.
Grapes ~ 100% Pinot Noir
Store Section ~ Chile
Availability ~ Both Private and Public Stores.
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PS – to keep things rolling I have signed onto acting as an affiliate for items that I think are truly noteworthy, remarkable and consistent with my values. If you don’t please click on the following, take a look and if you purchase, they send a commission that would be greatly appreciated.
February 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of my favourite events each summer is the Tour de France. Every couple of years the race features one of the most difficult cycling climbs on the planet – Mount Ventoux. It is a heart crushing, leg grinding climb that is not for the faint of heart.
I really enjoy road cycling and would someday like to attempt the climb up Mount Ventoux. I was strolling through the wine shop the other day and found a key part of my training regimen; the wines of the Ventoux. I understand that the grapes grown on Mount Ventoux have magical powers when it comes to strengthening one’s legs.
The Perrin family has vineyards throughout the Rhone Valley and is best known for Chateau Beaucastel which is the iconic wine of Chateauneuf du Pape. The grapes for the Ventoux are grown on the hillsides of Mount Ventoux.
Price ~ $16
Score ~ 7.9/10 Over Delivers
The aromas a brooding and somewhat moody. By all means give this wine time to breathe as there is a great story to be told if only you wait for it. Dark ripe and stewed fruits like plums. berries and blackberries open on the palate and are then enhanced by earthy, spicy flavours along with hints of smoked meat.
This is not a big heavy wine, rather it is bright but with a moody side. I loved this with anything with smoked paprika or bacon. I really loved this with a simple cheese and charcuterie plate. Fantastic!
Grapes ~ Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ private stores only
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February 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache, or Garnacha, is a grape on the rise and that is good news for those seeking great wines but don’t want to sell the farm to do so.
Most famously Grenache is a key to Chateauneuf du Pape, but it is also the main grape in regions of Spain such as Calatayud and Carinena, and these are where some of the greatest buys are hailing from.
Garnacha is a late ripening grape that requires a lot of heat to reach its full potential, hence you will only find a few expressions grown in the very southern reaches of the Okanagan in BC.
Garnacha is truly a crowd pleaser grape. Dark juicy fruits of raspberry, plum and blackberry, low in tannin meaning very little pucker. The only challenge is keeping the acidity up in order to insure a balanced wine.
Crowd Pleaser is definitely the phrase I would use for the Castillo de Monseran. Dark juicy fruit, very soft and brilliant with casseroles, Mac N Cheese or Pizza.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ 7.3/10 Over Delivers
This wine scores high on the value meter and would have scored higher is there is a little more depth to it. Having said that as soon as I paired it with food it was brilliant.
If you haven’t added Garnacha to your repertoire of wines, this is a great one to start with and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg.
Grapes ~ 100% Garnacha
Store Section ~ Spain
Availability ~ available in both private and public stores.
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