Top 5 White Wines For Easter 2015

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.

1) Lindeman’s Bin 65 ChardonnayIMG_0658-0

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

Price: ~$10.99

Available in most stores.

Link to the original review: Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay

2) Aveleda Vinho Verdeimage

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

Price: ~$14.99

Available in private stores only. 

Link to original review: Aveleda 2013 Vinho Verde

3) Domaine de Grachiesimage

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

Price: ~$13.99

Available in private stores only

Link to original review: Domaine de Grachies 2013

4) Lurton Pinot Grisimage

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

Price: ~$14.99

Available in most stores.

Link to the original review: Lurton 2013 Pinot Gris

5) Lurton fumees blanches Sauvignon Blancimage

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

Price: ~$15.99

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!

Cheers

Dork UnCorked

Piccini Chianti

January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.5  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0717.jpg

Price: $14.99-$17.45

Proof that pricing is not always a great indicator of value. Fluctuations in currency values can have a huge impact on the price of a wine. Take this wine for instance. Note the variation in price. Over the last number of months the price of this wine has climbed due to the increasing value of the Euro against the Canadian Dollar. I really like this wine as it is a step back in history to a time when wine was made to go with food, be refreshing and, in Italy, was consumed more often than water. For those looking for a wine experience this wine Over Delivers. For those looking for big, powerful, fruit driven wine, look elsewhere.

I have found this wine at $14.99 and for that price, under the scenario noted above, this wine Over Delivers… at $16.99 it’s a Good Drop.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The nose shows bright red cherry, some red berries and dried herbs (classic old school Chianti), while the palate has a light-medium body, is fresh and bright flavours of sour cherries and purple flowers. The finish is relatively short and shows some grip.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had the good fortune of having this with the Margherita Pizza from Pizza Prima Strada and it was tremendous! The fruit flavours came to the front and the freshness of the wine brought the heavenly flavours of the fresh basil and subtle creaminess of the Buffala Mozzarella. With simple foods this wine over delivers.

Value: This wine has great value and is worth the money as long as you are looking for a wine experience that takes you back in time. Setting out a red & white checkered tablecloth, have some mandolin music playing in the background and share a simple pasta or pizza and you have it nailed. If you are having the group over for a get together, stick with your usual Crowd Pleaser choice.

Added Value: As I said above this wine shows added value for Date Night, Comfort Foods or for the Foodies.

More To The Story: What do you think of the package? Classic hey? Did you know that for many years most wine was packaged like this. The basket allowed the rounded bottom bottle to stand on the table making it easier to serve. That all changed when along came a glass blower who figured out that if you push in the bottom you can have a bottle that will stand on its own.

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi. You will notice how much more expressive the aromas are and the tannin, or grip, won’t be as pronounced on the palate.

Grapes: Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Chianti DOCG

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Vina Maipo Carmenere – Cabernet Sauvignon

January 21, 2015 § 1 Comment

Score: 8.7 – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0712.png

Price: $10.99

About the Wine: This wine is not available in BC Liquor Stores so check out your favourite private store. Hailing from Chile, this wine is priced to compete with ‘everyday’ wines like Copper Moon etc.

Tasting Notes Sipping: This wine, for the price, is a very good sipper. It is well balanced, offers good fruit, some spice and the tannins are soft and supple making the wine smooth. Aromas of crushed plum and berry are highlighted with black pepper and violets, while the palate shows similar flavours with the addition of a hint of mocha.

Tasting Notes With Food: The complexity of this wine avails itself to simple foods like pizza, tomato based pasta dishes, or straight up meat and potatoes. I had this with a meat lovers pizza and it worked great. The berry fruit flavours and spice tones become more pronounced and the structure was up to the task of refreshing my palate.

Value: Definitely worth the trade up in price from Naked Grape, Copper Moon et al. I would also look at saving myself a few bucks on the likes of entry level BC or California straight Cabs or Merlots.

Added Value: This wine shines as an everyday wine and thus is great when you are serving a big group (Crowd Pleaser, Wedding Wine), or when you are having Comfort Foods.

More To The Story: I have spent the last number of years tasting thousands of wines each year and I have come a ‘generalization’. The best red wine values that are priced under $12 are most often blends. There is an assumption that a single varietal ‘New World’ wine is worth more than a blend, and once you are above $15/bottle that seems to be true. However for red wines under $15 blends are the way to go, and here is why.

Each varietal has its strengths. Cabernet Sauvignon is known for bringing structure and boldness to a wine, Cabernet Franc aromatics. Merlot and Carmenere are often used for their fruit and texture. So where you are making a wine for the ‘value’ market you are usually using grapes that are not the best and thus have some glaring weaknesses. Blending complimentary grapes makes a better wine.

Service: Twist off the cap and let if flow.

Grapes: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Chile

Appellation: Central Valley

Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Express

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store,

Alcohol: 13.1%

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2015/01/img_0712-0.png

Painted Wolf Chenin Blanc

January 14, 2015 § 2 Comments

Score:  8.4 – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0689.jpg

Price: $17.99

About the Wine: Chenin Blanc is a truly noble grape that makes a royal wine. Citrus, pear and creamy apple, this wine if a richly textured white wine that also offers vibrancy and freshness. You have likely seen photos depicting the incredible beauty and diversity of South Africa. Close your eyes, taste the wine and you can get a sense of the sheer opulent beauty of the region this wine comes from.

Value: I have often chosen this wine over a $17-$20 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or California Chardonnay such as Wente Morning Fog. A great alternative to run of the mill $15-$16 Chardonnays & Apothic White. Sadly there aren’t many Chenins on the market which gives this wine some added ‘discovery’ value.

Added Value: As there are only a few Chenins on the market, this is a great wine to share with the Foodies. This wine also provides added value to those about to enjoy a Date Night or just a comfortable Movie Night. If you are planning on Beer Butt Chicken or Grilled Halibut from the BBQ… heaven awaits.

More To The Story: There are really two stories here. The wine comes from the Paarl Valley of South Africa and is the artistry of Jeremy and Emma Borg.

Jeremy and Emma have shared a life as Safari guides. They were both struck by the beauty of the African Wild Dog, also known as the Painted Wolf, and the fragility of their environment and numbers. Part proceeds of every bottle sold goes to support the Painted Wolf in their natural habitat.

The second story is the wines of South Africa and what their impact will be in the coming years. For a number of years South African producers spent their sales efforts on the UK and Northern Europe, and exported whatever they had left to BC & Alberta. Today there are far more wineries competing for space in the European markets meaning that we will start to see some great values here.

I was in South Africa a couple of years back and tasted some incredible wines, including those of Jeremy and Emma Borg. I believe that the next hot category could be South Africa.

Service: Chill down, but not too cold. If there is condensation on the bottle after coming out of the fridge, let it warm up a bit and the fruit and full complexity of the wine will shine through.

Grapes: Chenin Blanc

Store Section: South Africa

Appellation: Paarl

Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany, Legacy Liquor Store

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Legacy Liquor Store

Alcohol: 13.5 %

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Jackson-Triggs Reserve or Black Label 2012 Merlot

January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.8 – Good Drop2015/01/img_0685.png

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Classic Merlot nose of plum and spice. Dark purple in the glass and the palate is ripe and round with flavours of plum and hints of black currant. The finish is juicy, with soft tannins and has a medium length.

Value: The simple economics of operating a winery makes it really difficult to produce a quality BC grown wine for under $20, so I have to give this wine some kudos for being able to deliver this kind of quality to the market year after year. To that end I would likely save a buck or two and pick this wine over Fetzer Merlot or $15-$17 Chilean Merlot. Would I trade up from $12 South American Merlot? Yes if it was straight merlot, not likely if Carmenere was in the blend. In fact I would choose a $12-$14 Chilean Carmenere over this wine.

Added Value: This wine has added value for those having a BBQ or looking for a Crowd Pleaser wine for when the family comes by.

More To The Story: This wine is indicative of the unique character of the wine business in B.C. The identical wine is sold under two different labels. One label, Reserve, is for BC Liquor Stores and the, Black Label Series, is for private stores. The craziness of the current system means that a wine sold to BC Liquor Stores isn’t worth carrying in private stores, so for the winery to gain distribution in private stores they had to create a second model. It is the the BC liquor industry’s version of a TV model for Future Shop and one for Wal-Mart, although they are the exact same TV.

Service: Twist the cap and serve. No need to breathe just let it rip. As for food I would serve this with grilled steak or a roast chicken.

Grapes: Merlot

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Blanc

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.0  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0678.jpg

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Close your eyes for a moment and think of sitting on the patio. It’s a warm spring day with the scent of fresh flowers and rebirth in the air. The sun warms your face and your cares just slip away, if only for a moment. If you can put yourself there then you can get a good sense of this wine.

The nose features fresh pears, melon and delicious apple, while the palate is crisp, clean and refreshing. Flavours of Bartlett pear, honeydew melon and red, crisp apples grace the palate. The finish is short to medium and crisp.

Value: I would trade up from any Pinot Gris at $12-$13 for this wine. In addition I would save myself a buck or two over California Sauvignon Blanc priced at $16-$17.

Added Value: This wine strikes a chord for Foodies, as BC Pinot Blanc is in short supply but is almost perfect with spot prawns and crab. This is also a great wine for Weddings as it is fresh and very food versatile. I find it is more food versatile than many BC Pinot Gris’.

More To The Story: A number of years ago a study was done to determine which are the best grapes to grow in BC’s various appellations. Pinot Blanc was determined to be B.C.’s white grape as a quantity of high quality grapes can be grown. Sadly Pinot Blanc vines are being pulled out of vineyards and replaced with Pinot Gris. This is a response to the incredible and growing demand for Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, but it also means that the growers and wine makers that continue to work with Pinot Blanc are true artisans and are producing jewels that, I think, represent BC better than Pinot Gris.

Service: Chill down to about 8ºC. In case you don’t have a thermometer handy, if there is condensation when you take it out of the fridge, let it sit and warm up a few minutes before serving.

Grapes: Pinot Blanc

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot, Hillside Liquor Store, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, VQA Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 10.4 %

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Wolf Blass Yellow Label 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.0 – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0682.jpg

Price: $17.99 (also available in 375ml and 1.5L bottles)

About the Wine: The wine that started it all for Australian wines in Canada 30+ years ago is classic Aussie Cab. The nose shows rich, ripe berry, cassis, eucalyptus and spice, while the palate is full, layered and complex. Flavours of cassis, berry, spice and mint dominate the palate. The finish is medium to long in length and is awesomely juicy.

Value: This is a much better wine that wines like Apothic Red and Cupcake Cabernet. In both cases I would recommend the trade up in price. I would also recommend that you save a couple bucks by trading down in price to the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cab from Louis Martini Sonoma Cab and The Show Cabernet Sauvignon.

Added Value: This is a great BBQ wine, and really shines as a Crowd Pleaser or on Move and Date Nights.

More To The Story: A little inside information. The grapes from this wine, although it is not on the label come from the phenomenal Cabernet region of Langhorne Creek. I understand that it will be on the label with the next vintage.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed a renaissance in quality. A few years back the decision was made to get more money out of the brand by reducing the cost of the grapes. Predictably the wine started to get thin, unappealing and would have been given a Waste of Wine rating. However a few years back a new team took over the brand and the winemaking. They decided to invest millions in new winemaking facilities, vineyards and people. I had written the wine and the brand off, until a good friend told me I was an idiot and that I should give it another whirl, I’m glad I did.

Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe or run it through your Vinturi. Grilled up a big thick steak and take it all in. It is also a great pairing with poutine, yup poutine.

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: Langhorne Creek

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Liquor Depot, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Liquor N’ More Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Express

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 13.0 %

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