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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March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I firmly believe that Grenache, and Grenache blends will be the ‘it’ wine of 2016/2017. I declare this to be true for a few of reasons.
- Taste Profile – Grenache is alway juicy and easy to enjoy, with a delicious kiss of savoury spices and a soft round texture because the grape is naturally low in tannin (pucker).
- The Underdog Effect – Grenache has long been considered a blending grape and therefore its impact on the quality of a wine has either been overshadowed or totally missed. Loads of cork dorks around the globe are choosing Grenache because it so overlooked.
- Value – Grenache is the second most planted red grape in the world meaning there are oceans of quality Grenache produced each year meaning there are lots of great wines under $20 and even under $15.
I was strolling around my local store looking for that underappreciated bottle of Grenache at a real good price… enter La Bastide.
La Bastide hit the market like a bomb a few years back. Every store had a stack and it was flying out the doors. Little did people know that this wine is about 70% Grenache, hence its juicy delicious character. Well that was a few years ago and now this wine is most likely found on the bottom shelf as the shine has worn off. That is great news for those looking for a juicy, delicious wine with loads of flavour, lively spice, a soft texture and are willing to bend their knees to get a bottle that totally over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 7.4/10 – Over Delivers
This is a real crowd pleaser and if you are looking to get married this summer or perhaps you are buying the wine for the nuptials, this is a great choice- inexpensive, over delivers and is incredibly food versatile.
Speaking of food I would have this wine with anything BBQ. Either BBQ sauce or slow roasted. Oh and it is also awfully good with a flank steak that has been marinating all day.
Grapes ~ 70% Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both Private & Public Stores.
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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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January 30, 2016 § 1 Comment
This is the most recent vintage of this wine, and as much as there is not a huge vintage change when it comes to the wines of Puglia, this wine shows a lot more juicy punch than did the previous vintage. For $9 you really can’t go wrong.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ 7.2/10 Over Delivers
I first discovered this wine after a trip to Argentina where I tasted 200+ Malbecs over a 10 day buying trip. Needless to say I was looking for something a little different but I still had the zest for the rich fruit, structure and leathery elements of Malbec. Negroamaro perfectly fit the bill. Rich and juicy like Malbec, but just different enough to be very enticing. The difference is in the spice. This wine shows black pepper and hints of rosemary instead of the leather and smoky nature of Malbec.
Grapes: 100% Negroamaro
Store Section: Italy
Availability: Both Government and Private Stores
Foods Pairing – Pasta, Burgers, Pizza, Steak
If you have had the opportunity to have tasted this wine please let me know what you thought of it.
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December 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
When I say the word Shiraz what do you think of? Probably Yellow Tail right? I have a very clear recollection of the Aussie wave that hit our shores in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Every Shiraz coming into the market seemed to fit a very thin taste spectrum. I remember thinking that could be a big mistake. As it turned out, like most things, people tired of the same flavour and body and started to migrate to Malbec thus insuring the rapid decline of Australian wine fortunes in BC.
The fact is that only those Shiraz’s manufactured to taste the same year after year do. 99% of Shiraz made in Australia is not manufactured and actually reflects the region and winery it comes from.
I know that the Grey Label is outside of the $20 but holy crap does it represent a great value. Close your eyes here comes some dorky terms – very well balanced, bright acidity, dense flavours and aromas from start to finish. This is the whole package and thoroughly enjoyable.
Price ~ $29-$33
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
Unscrew the cap and let this wine breathe for a few minutes (10-15) and you will be well rewarded. Stick your nose right in the glass and take a deep breathe. What you will notice is the scent of blueberry, blackberry, ripe plum, black cherry, black pepper, violets, lavender, and just a hint of cured meat. I know, I know it seems like there couldn’t be all that, but there is.
The palate is bright yet full and ripe and the finish is juicy with just a kiss of spice and sultry smoke.
Grapes ~ 100% Shiraz
Store Section ~ Australia
Availability ~ Both government and private stores.
Food ~ Roasted or grilled lamb, Duck, even Turkey, Aged Cheddar.
Acknowledgements: Stacey Brennan, Pam Sanderson, Ernest Sargent, Brianna Kirby, Jami Wood, Karin Kallio, Angela Phillips, Patti Raffle.
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July 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Amongst cork dork Gruner is hip and worthy of many a lavish superlative. However outside of that world Gruner is not very well understood or often enjoyed. So when I say a Gruner at under $10 and from Hungary I just had to try it.
Gruner at its essence is like a Riesling and shows peach, pear and citrus and some pretty good spicy-ness.
I enjoyed this wine and it certainly delivered on its price promise. The nose shows pears, apricots and melons and finish shows some spice.
For $9.29 this is a pretty great white wine buy and I really enjoyed it with white fish like cod and halibut, or even prawns on a fresh citrusy salad.
Score: 7.5 ~ Over Delivers
Purchased at BC Liquor Stores