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

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

Barefoot Shiraz

January 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 5.1 – Dead Average2015/01/img_0696.jpg

Price: $9.99 On-sale January 2015 $8.49 ($19.99 1.5L)

About the Wine: Price must be the only reason why this wine has the popularity that is has; that and good merchandising. The wine tastes more manufactured than grown and is one-dimensional at best.

The nose shows over ripe black fruits with some vanilla. The palate is a simple juice bomb that has been infused with oak chips to give it a vanilla component. The finish is short and sweet.

Value: The best value is in selecting other wines that offer better value for your money… even at $8.49. Go with Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah, La Vuelta Malbec or Lindeman’s Cawarra Shiraz-Cabernet all at $9.99.

More To The Story: Prior to the Barefoot brand being sold to E & J Gallo, Barefoot was a bit of a pioneer. It was the first virtual winery that showed success. A virtual winery doesn’t own a winery or vineyards. They purchase grapes from growers and contract wineries with excess capacity to make the wine. All in all its a pretty good business model as it fills a need in the market while supplying affordable wines.

Service: Twist off the cap and let if flow.

Grapes: Shiraz

Store Section: California

Appellation: California

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Liquor Express, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot (on-sale $7.99), Beverly Corners.

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 12.5%

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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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Dunavar 2013 Pinot Grigio

January 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.4- Good Drop2015/01/img_0680.jpg

Price: $10.99

About the Wine: This is a really good value Pinot Grigio. True to the grape there is melon and citrus aromas and flavours, while the palate is crisp and elegant. Classic.

Value: Definitely worth the $1 trade up from Copper Moon or Naked Grape Pinot Grigio and much closer to a classic Pinot Grigio than many of the Aussie and Californian offerings at $12 or $13.

Added Value: Where this wine really shines is with simple Comfort Foods. This is a great ‘Tuesday’ night wine but I want a little complexity with more complex meals. Very much a Crowd Pleaser and a great Wedding Wine.

More To The Story: In the mid 19th Century all the way up until the mid 20th century, Hungary’s status as a wine region was similar to that of Portugal or Greece. After the Iron Curtain fell on the country following WWII, quality viticulture and winemaking were in very short supply as was the wine itself (most going to Moscow instead of London or New York).

Since the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late ’80s more and more investment has been flooding into Hungary. Some of the biggest names in wine like Rothschild and Vega Sicilia are spending big dough on upgrading vineyards, wineries and re-establishing a winemaking tradition.

Hopefully we will soon see more than just low-end Pinot Grigios and Muscats, and we will start to see some premium quality indigenous and classic wines.

Service: Chill down and serve, that’s about it. For what to have with it, Pesto pasta, mild cheeses, pizza, grilled or roasted chicken.

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Eastern Europe/Other

Appellation: Hungary

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Cascadia Liquor Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 11%

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Copper Moon Pinot Grigio

January 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 5.0 – Dead Average2015/01/img_0679.jpg

Price: $9.69

About the Wine: Take a can of fruit cocktail out of the cupboard, add a 1/2 ounce of vodka and you will have duplicated this wine. The reason that I gave this a Dead Average rating is simply because of its popularity. It is a hugely popular wine and I’m a firm believer that the ultimate value of a wine is on the palate of the beholder.

Value: The value here is that there are others out there that give you better value for your money. For $1 more you can get some really good Pinot Grigios, a good example  is the Dunavar Pinot Grigio from Hungary. If you only want to spend $10 then get the Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), Robertson Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), or Hardy’s Chardonnay (Australia). It’s a buck more but offers more fresh fruit, character and flavour but the Hardy’s Riesling-Gewurztraminer, is a much better spend.

More To The Story: Clearly not one of my favourites or something that I would suggest people spend their money on. Part of the reason for this is that I don’t believe in a wine like this. This is a blend of Pinot Grigio juice that is imported in bulk bladders from around the world, poured into bottles or boxes with a ‘Canadian’ label and called Canadian. To give the consumer the perception that this is a Canadian wine is false. A standard should be created where a minimum percentage of the wine must be from Canadian grapes in order for a wine to be called Canadian or Cellared in Canada.

Service: Chill it down… a lot

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Cellared In Canada

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Liquor Express, Most Private Liquor Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.0 %

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Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay: Updated

January 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 9.1 – Best Buy/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0658.jpg
Price: $11.99 ($22.99 for the 1.5L Bottle)

About the Wine: There are few better Chardonnay’s under $15 in B.C. This wine shows balance through and through. It offer generous fruit, bright freshness, a creamy texture, layers of spice and hints of vanilla. It provides a complete taste experience from start to finish on the palate.

It’s a big brand, and one doesn’t normally associate an artisan approach to wines from a global giant, but this is the wine that built the Lindeman’s brand and they seem to understand that it is the pillar of the brands growth and stability. I have tasted, bought and enjoyed this wine for each of the last 8 vintages and it has yet to disappoint.

For those fearful of too much oak in Chardonnay, particularly Australian Chardonnay, there is nothing to fear here. The key to this wine is balance and enjoyment. Best Buy for sure!

Value: It would be a mistake not to trade up in price to this wine from the likes of Barefoot, Naked Grape, & Copper Moon and save yourself a buck by trading down in price from Yellow Tail or Woodbridge Chardonnay.

Added Value: There is added value in serving this wine if you are doing any of the following: getting married, having a group of people over or going to a party, snuggling up on the couch for movie night, or enjoying a girls night out.

Part of the Story: I remember when Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay first gained popularity in B.C. It was a part of the first wave of Australian wine back in the early 90’s and Wyndham’s Bin 222 Chard was king. B.C. has long been known to pay the lowest prices to suppliers. Bin 222 was growing by leaps and bounds with every passing year and Wyndham Estate found themselves without enough wine to match global demand. Instead of raising their prices they simply cut supply to markets that paid the lowest prices… first on the list, B.C.

Without the market leader present on the shelves consumers were looking for an alternative and Lindeman’s Bin 65 became that alternative. It was the number 1 selling Australian white wine right up until Yellow Tail stormed the beaches in the early 2000’s. From what I understand from the agent, Lindemans Bin 65 is once again the most popular Australian white wine.

The price for Lindemans Bin 65 in 1995, and this adds to why this gets a Best Buy rating, $9.99. The price today $11.99. An increase of only $2 over 20 years is amazing. An increase of only $2 over 20 years while maintaining quality is priceless.

Service: Chill to about 8C. In the event that you don’t have a thermometer handy, if there is condensation on the bottle when you take it out of the fridge, just wait a few minutes for it to warm up a bit and serve. For food pairings this has always been a favourite of mine with grilled chicken or roasted pork tenderloin, but best of all is pairing this with a big bowl of hot buttered popcorn.

Grapes: Chardonnay

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: South East Australia

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Everything Wine, Liquor Express, Metro Liquor, Liquor Depot

Buy Online/Delivered To Your Door: Everything Wine,  Metro Liquor, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 13%

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Hardy’s Riesling Gewurztraminer

January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.2 – Over Delivers/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0657.jpg
Price: $10.99

About the Wine: For the money there are few light, fresh slightly sweet wines that can compete with this one. The nose is full of peach, pear and citrus fruit with hints of fresh spring flowers (I envision an old Irish Spring Soap commercial; do you remember those or am I dating myself?). The palate is light and fresh and bursting with fresh tropical fruit. The finish is, again, fruity but with a kiss of sweetness which makes it easy to reach for a second or third glass. The good news is that it is lighter in alcohol at 11.5% so having a second glass isn’t likely to put you under the table.

The balance between fresh lively fruit, freshness and subtle sweetness at this price means this wine Over Delivers. Why not a Best Buy you ask? Good question- it is definitely on the cusp of greatness. A few years back there would be no question of its Best Buy status, however in recent years, perhaps due to increased popularity around the world, the quality has dropped a little.

Value: This wine is worthy of a trade up in price from the likes of Copper Moon, Naked Grape and Barefoot Pinot Grigio, and it is worth a trade down in price from some of the big brand California wines like Beringer & Woodbridge Pinot Grigio. I would also suggest that this wine is a better buy than the Jackson-Triggs 2013 VQA Riesling-Gewurztraminer at $13.99.

Added Value: There are many scenarios where this wine will shine. Girl’s Night Out, Crowd Pleaser, Wedding Wines, Movie Night, Date Night, these are all occasions where this wine will offer greater value than just what is in the bottle.

Service: Chill down to about 8C. If there is condensation on the bottle when you take it out of the fridge, then let it warm up just a bit before enjoying. Serving food with this is fun as you can have some creamy cheeses like Brie, or you could enjoy some shellfish like prawns or shrimp. My fave pairing has been with fresh fruit on some light ricotta cheese.

Grapes: Riesling, Gewurztraminer

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: South East Australia

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine , Metro Liquor, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Express, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store

Buy Online/Delivered to Your Door: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor,

Alcohol: 11.5%

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Mezzomondo 2013 Negromaro IGT

January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.5 – Good Drop/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0655.jpg

Price: $9.99

About the Wine: The Negromaro grape is aptly named as it is black in the glass and can be really fruit forward. The nose on this wine features dark berry and tree fruits and perhaps a little spice but not much more. The flavour reflects the nose but also shows a touch of leather and vanilla. This is medium weight wine with a soft texture. The finish is simple and juicy. All in all when you consider the price and the quality this is a pretty good drop.

Value: This is a very straightforward wine meant to appeal to a broad collection of palates and at this it price punches over its weight and would be my choice of $10-$11 California or Argentine wines that also feature black fruits and depth of colour (Zinfandel, California Shiraz, Malbec).

Added Value: To me this wine is well suited to Comfort Foods. Ordering in Pizza? Having a grilled cheese or meat loaf. This is where this wine has added value.

Service: No need to let this breathe, just twist the cap off and let it flow.

Grapes: Negromaro

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Puglia

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Hillside Liquor Stores, Liquor Express, Cascadia, Beverly Corners, Private Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 13.5%

 

Apothic Red

January 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 5.7 – Dead Average/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0646.png

Price: $16.99

About the Wine: A total juice bomb. It is the quintessential hedonistic wine and it was designed to be. So popular that it has become the standard by which an ocean of also-rans are measured. The nose is blackberry, black plums and vanilla, with some significant oak underpinnings. The palate is round, soft, juicy and filled with sweet fruits and pie pastry. The finish is sweet and juicy and that is about it. This wine sacrifices complexity for sweetness and there are many wines on the market that show ripe juicy fruit and offer complexity for the same or better price, therefore this wine is dead average… at best.

Value: The real value in this wine is its social value. Its popularity attracts more to the crowd with each passing year.

Added Value: Where this wine shines is as a crowd pleaser. Its simple straightforward juice bomb nature makes it an easy quaffer whiles its popularity means easy acceptance.

Service: Nothing too complicated here, just twist the cap and start to pour. For food I would suggest milk chocolate or big thick steak with potatoes.

Grapes: Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: California

Appellation: California

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Planet, Private Liquor Stores, Liquor Express, Metro Liquor, Beverly Corners Liquor Store

Buy Online/Deliver To Your Door: Everything WineMetro Liquor

Alcohol: 13.1%

 

 

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