Blue Grouse 2015 Pinot Gris

August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

BG-Pinot-Gris-2015In the late 90’s I worked for a wine importer the owner of which had a penchant for European wines. We had a great portfolio and it featured some brilliant Alsatian (France) white wines. I fell in love with Pinot Gris from Alsace. To me it seemed that the Alsatian expression of Pinot Gris was incredibly pure, refined and elegant.

At about the same time Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio was starting its incredible rise in popularity. Today the shelves are filled with hundreds of Pinot Gris/Grigio’s, the most of which I consider tosser wines.

Tosser wines are wines conceived of not in the vineyard or cellar, but around the marketing table in the presence of PowerPoint presentations and demographic studies.  I found so many expressions of PG to be tossers that I stopped buying it altogether. So when a bottle of the Blue Grouse 2015 Pinot Gris showed up on my desk, I cracked it open expecting the worst.

Price ~ $18-$22

Score ~ 8.4/10 (Over Delivers

The nose showed focused and vibrant pear and melon. The palate is incredibly refined and elegant with piercing and pure pear flavours. Bright acidity on the finish makes this wine refreshing and incredibly well balanced. I liken it to a perfect set of pearls. Refined, elegant, pure and empirically pleasing.

As for food, this will be a great pairing with roasted/grilled pork, white fish, and fresh salads with a light vinaigrette or quality olive oil.

Grapes ~ 100% Pinot Gris

Store Section ~ BC/VQA

Availability ~ Private stores only (take a look at the Blue Grouse website for a complete list here).

Cheers

Dork UnCorked

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Picks of The Pros: Linda Holford, Rocky Creek Wines

May 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

I asked Linda what are the two wines that best showcase where Vancouver Island wines have been, where they are going and give reason to believe that the future is bright… oh and are must tries for anyone exploring Vancouver Island wines.

White ~ Rocky Creek Pinot GrisRocky Creek PG

Price: $20

Tasting Notes: “This is one of our best sellers due to its uniqueness in colour. A short skin contact has enhanced the mouth feel and results in a beautiful hint of salmon colour, which is getting to be very on trend. It balances well with so many foods. Full and smooth on the palate with loads of fruit flavours that continue through a long tangy finish.This wine really showcases our regional characteristics.”

 

Averill Creek Pinot NoirRed ~ Averill Creek Pinot Noir

Price: $22

Tasting Notes: “Delicate but intense. Elegant yet earthy. Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch. The silky, medium-bodied palate features rich black cherry & ripe plum flavours, finished with a touch of spice & soft, supple tannins. Delightful alongside grilled salmon, beef bourguignon, roasted fowl or sautéed mushrooms.”

 

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

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.

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Bailey Williamson: Show Notes Episode 24

April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

Bailey WilliamsonAfter meeting the Queen, what do you do? Well for Bailey Williamson, winemaker at Blue Grouse Wines, you become a chef, then get your start in the wine business working vintage in the Barossa Valley of Australia.

What you will notice when you listen to the show (click here for link to podcast version) is how curious and learned Bailey is on all things that come together to impact the quality of the wine he grows and makes.

Prior to doing the show we had a great long chat that brought up so many fascinating topics that we could easily do 2 or 3 episodes. What follows is a summary of our on air discussion. Feel free to let us know what you think of the show and if you have any questions of Bailey or the Dork UnCorked by leaving them in the comments.

Segment 1 ~ Climate Change

Did you know that the Blue Grouse Winery has received 1 meter of rain since November 2015. That is in stark contrast to the Saanich Peninsula who has only received a fraction of that amount.

Climate change isn’t about year long averages, it is about extremes within the year. For instance the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage are extremely wet over the winter and extremely dry over the summer. A long dry summer is preferred to a wet one but the vines need some water at certain times in their annual cycle. For instance water is critical during verasion (time of ripening in the grape where the sugars start to develop; also the time when the grapes change colour. If a red wine grape, verasion is when the grape changes from green to red.). Not enough water and you don’t get sugar development, too much and you get a ton of foliage and the grapes develop too much sugar.

Segment 2 ~ 2015 Wines

I have said it before and I will say it again that I am very excited to taste the wines of the 2015 vintage no matter where they come from. 2015 is unique in that it is universally seen as one of the best vintages in recent memory. The truth to that is only found in tasting.

Recently Bailey bottled the 2015 Quill Rosé and the 2015 Estate Pinot Gris, both of which will be available for release in about 4-6 weeks. He also bottled the 2014 Pinot Noirs but that will be for another show that I’m thinking about… Island Pinots – what do you think?

The 2015’s are looking solid and full of flavour, but just out of interest the 2014 Quill Rosé is tasting at it’s best right now, yet there are only a few cases still floating around. That is the cruel reality of wine. Often when a wine is at its best is when it is hardest to find.

Segment 3 ~ Unique Wines

Tasting Room Blue GrouseThe new tasting room and winery at Blue Grouse opened last year and by all accounts is well worth a visit. What is interesting is that what sells most out of the tasting room is not what sells most out of a retail outlet or off a wine list.

Ortega, Siegerrebe (or as Bailey calls it a the winery Sieg), Bacchus and Muller Thurgau are not household names and, unless a person is already familiar with them, sit on the shelves in a retail store in deference to items like Pinot Gris. But in the tasting room these are big sellers.

Ortega and Siegerrebe are hybrids created for climates like ours here on the island. They don’t require the same amount of heat or length of growing season to get ripe as do grapes like Chardonnay, Merlot, or Sauvignon Blanc. When you taste wines from grapes that are best suited to an area you can tell. They are vibrant, lively and delicious.

Segment 4 ~ Terroir

Recently Bailey and his colleagues enjoyed tasting Dr. Elizabeth Tomasino from Oregon State University (on the air we mention the Ducks but this was wrong, its the Oregon State Beavers). What became interesting was the discussion surrounding what is actually terroir (the concept that the combination of a particular region’s climate, geography, culture, and foods, create a unique flavour in a wine) and what is microbiology, or part of the winemaking process. The result was that we too often default to ‘terroir’ where the difference is actually made by the winemaker in the winery.

I put Bailey on spot by asking him what two wines that he has made, should everyone try? To get the answers you will have to listen to the show (click here for podcast).

Best Buys of the Week 

This week we have two. First is the Quill 2014 Rosé, which although in short supply, is tasting at it’s peak.

Second is the L’Ostal Caze 2015 Rosé, absolutely stunning for its delicacy and finesse. Beautiful on a spring day.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

Spring Wines: Episode 22 Show Notes

April 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

Spring is here. We have enjoyed a phenomenal week of sunshine and temperatures around 20C. As the season changes so do our behaviours. Our behaviours when it comes to consumption and what our day to day looks like.

Typically when sun is out we stay up later, get up earlier and start to eat fresher foods and do more grilling. Today’s show is all about wines for a ‘Spring’ lifestyle.

Link To Podcast

Segment 1 ~ Is Wine A Part of A Healthy Lifestyle?

I maybe a little biased but I believe that it is. There are reams of studies suggesting moderate consumption is actually healthier than abstinence and certainly healthier than heavy consumption. But what does moderate consumption mean? The answer to this question is the sticking point.

In North America 1 glass of wine a day for the average person (height & weight), whereas in Denmark moderate consumption is considered 4-5 glasses a day. My belief is that this points to the fact that science hasn’t been able to separate wine consumption from other elements of a culture’s lifestyle.

I do love the stories about the 110 year old Greek man or Italian woman who swears up and down that drinking 4-5 bottles of wine a day is the secret to a long life. I suspect that the truth is not just in the quantity but in the process.

Consider that in Greece and Italy most of the food is without preservatives. Also consider that lunch and dinner are integral to the culture, communal and done slowly over hours. In contrast, North America is famous for a ‘quick’ bite at the desk or shoving some food in prior to taking the kids to ballet/soccer/hockey class.

I believe that the key to a healthy lifestyle is a smile, exercise, clean food and a pace that allows one to consider the beauty of the people, surroundings and food they are enjoying at the moment.

Quick Note on Vintages

This is an exciting time of year for us dorks as the new vintages of whites and rosés from the Northern Hemisphere, and all from the Southern Hemisphere are starting to appear. What makes this spring so exciting is because it sees the arrival of the 2015 vintage. The world over this vintage is said to be one of the best. Some of the wines below may have transitioned already.

Segment 2 ~ Red Wines For Spring

In spring we tend to get out of the kitchen and on the BBQ and that typically means more grilled meats, salads and fruits. To that end here are some red wines that pair well with Spring because they are a little light in body, are a little brighter on the palate and offer fresh fruit flavours instead of stewed or cooked fruit flavours.

Borsao 2014 Garnacha – $15, Grenache, Spanish Section of the Store and available in both public and private stores (2014 review to follow, click here to see 2013 review).

Ermelinda Monte da Baia 2014 – $12, Castelao-Touriga Nacional-Syrah, Portuguese section of the store and available in both public and private stores (click here to see review).

Cono Sur Bicicleta 2014 Pinot Noir – $14, Pinot Noir, Chilean section of the store and available in both public and private stores (click here to see review).

Segment 3 ~ White Wines For Spring

Halibut season is upon us and just around the corner is Spot Prawn season. Anyway you look at Spring means more fish in our diets along with more fruits and vegetables. Here are some white wines under $20 that are brilliant with Spring fare.

Campogrande 2014 Orvieto – $17 Trebbiano, Italian section of the store, and only available in private stores (click here to see review).

Lindemans Bin 65 2015 Chardonnay – $13 Chardonnay, Australian section of the store, available in both public and private stores (click here for review).

Aveleda 2014 Vinho Verde – $17, Loureiro-Trajadura-Arinto, Portuguese section of the store and only available in private stores (2014 review to follow; click here for 2013 review).

Segment 4 ~ Rosé Wines for Spring

Did you know that Rosé is the fastest growing category between red, white and pink wines. It is a category that is finally coming into its own and truly provides the flavour essence of Spring.

Mocojo Long Stem 2014 Rosé – $18, Pinot Meunier-Pinot Noir, BC section of the store and available only in private stores (click here to see review).

Quill 2014 Rosé – $18, Gamay Noir, Vancouver Island section of the store and available only in private stores. (click here to see review).

Cazes de L’Ostal 2015 Rosé – $15, Grenache, French section of the store and available mostly in public stores right now (click here to see review).

Best Buy of the Week – Ermelinda Monte da Baia – see above for detail and click here to see the review.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

 

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.

Wine Folly Image

 

Craft Distilling Part 1: Whisky & Brandy Show Notes Episode 18

February 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

Craft Distilling is growing faster than blossoms are blooming on Victoria’s Cherry Trees so we thought we might bring in our Spirits Correspondent and all round Encyclopedia of all things distilled, Shawn Soole.

Link to Podcast 

Segment 1 

Shout Outs

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you must put Ca Va Bistro Moderne on your list of places to dine in Victoria. Intimate, delicious, relaxed and all round fantastic. I raise a glass to Fauna Martin and the team at Ca Va Bistro Moderne.

I raise a second glass to Spring in Victoria. While the rest of the country continues to shovel out their driveways, we are blessed with watching the blossoms come out.

For the last shout out this week, I raise a pint to Ken Beattie, Executive Director of the BC Craft Brewers Guild. As we all know Craft Brewing has grown at an amazing pace and is now an integral part of the Liquor industry in BC. Managing to aggregate new, rapidly expanding and established breweries is no small feat, but Ken has done a masterful job and we are all better for it.

Mailbag

“What about the Legs of a Wine?”

For years taking careful attention to notice the ‘legs’ of a wine was a part of every sommelier’s training. The legs are the glycerine droplets that run down the side of the glass after swirling a wine. They are also known Church Windows.

The idea was that the legs would tell you about the texture, body and mouthfeel of the wine. The bigger and slower the legs the heavier the wine. I no longer include a review of the legs as it seems redundant and is dependent on the quality of the detergent used to clean the glasses. To get a sense of the body, texture and mouthfeel of a wine I rely on my palate and that seems to do the trick.

Thanks for the emails and questions, please keep them coming.

Segment 2 ~ Craft Distilled Whisky

The Craft Distilling industry is growing by leaps and bounds and that means locally made whisky’s.

The challenge is finding them as it takes time and patience to create a quality whisky, they need a minimum of 3 years ageing, and to that end there are very few that are available, and most can only be gotten through the distilleries mailing list.

Here is a list of a few of the island distilleries making whisky:

Merridale

Phillips Fermentorium

Victoria Spirits

Shelter Point Distillery

In order to get some of the Whisky’s mentioned on the show follow the links below to get on the mailing list or lottery.

Okanagan Spirits

Pemberton Distilleries

Segment 3 ~ Brandy & Eau de Vie

There was a lot covered in this segment so I highly recommend downloading the podcast. Here are a couple of links to producers of brandy here in BC.

Okanagan Crush Pad Narrative Grape Spirit

Merridale Eau de Vie

Segment 4 ~ Liqueur

Liqueur made here in BC is still hard to find, but there are some stunning examples that are harbingers of what the future will bring. Below are links to some of these products.

Sons of Vancouver Amaretto

Legend’s Blasted Brew 

Wayward’s Depth Charge

Okanagan Spirits Fruit Liqueurs

De Vine Fruit Spirits

Best Buy of the WeekSanta Cristina Campogrande Orvieto ($17)

Classic Italian white wine that is fruit forward and delicious. Brilliant with shellfish, light pastas.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

Stay tuned as next week we get into what it means to be a Craft Distillery, Craft Vodka and the wonderful and exploding world of Craft Gin.

Category 12 Transmutation Belgian Specialty Ale

February 17, 2016 § 2 Comments

TransmutationThis is a first. I haven’t really written about beer as there are lot of people out there that seem to cover the category well, however this one tickled me quite a bit. Really unique brew with serious artisan bent and tons of local flavour (pun intended).

One of the toughest things to do when you have a brilliant idea that you clearly see as your future is to convince your spouse (I know of this all too well).

Michael Kuzyk, proprietor of Category 12 Brewing, got his doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry from UVic and had a very distinguished career working and leading some of the world’s most highly regarded labs. His true calling was brewing and after honing his craft as a homebrewer he had ideas of becoming a craft brewer, but he had to convince his wife Karen.

The best way convince anyone that you have what it takes to be a successful brewer is to brew something they love- walk your talk – and this is exactly what Michael did.

Karen wasn’t as much of a fan of beer as Michael until she tried the Transmutation although it wasn’t called that at the time. Transmutation is a Belgian Specialty Ale and what makes it really special is the handmade, yes handmade candy that is added to the brew. What you get is a strong Belgian Ale of the Trappist Tripel tradition with lovely sweetness while maintaining its refreshing body.

Only 200 cases of bombers are produced and they are starting to hit stores today (Feb. 17, 2016). Below is a list of stores that you will find it at today. I would act fast given how quickly it sold out last year.

Spinnaker’s James Bay & Vic West

Vessel Liquor

Metro Liquor University Heights, Tuscany Village and Brentwood

Cascadia Uptown, Quadra and Langford

Cook St. Village Liquor Store

The Strath

Estimated price $8-$10/650ml

You can also get growler fills at the brewery (link to brewery) 1L $8.00 1.9L $16

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

PS – do me a favour and let the store or the brewery know who sent you.

Valentines Day 2016: Episode 15 Show Notes

February 6, 2016 § 1 Comment

What are you going to do for Valentine’s Day this year? Share a romantic morsel or two at home after the kids go to bed. Perhaps enjoy an evening with some chocolate and a glass of wine? Maybe you are planning on going out for dinner. Episode 15 is all about Valentine’s Day, the best wine values for the occasions above.

Link To Podcast

Segment 1 ~ Shout Outs

Vancouver International Wine Festival – Feb. 20-28, 2016

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is the largest and best attended this side of the Missippi. Harry Hertsheg and his team put on a phenomenal week that includes tasting seminars, winemaker’s dinners and, of course, massive tastings for both consumers and trade.

There will be close to 200 wineries participating which give you a chance to taste over 800 wines.

Click on the link above for details.

Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine by Madelaine Puckette and Justin Hammack

This book is a colourful and easy to follow guide to wine that is used by the trade and those looking to get a greater understanding on the world of wine. I highly recommend it.

Segment 2 ~ Wine & Chocolate

It may seem counter intuitive to pair chocolate with wine, but the right pairing can make the sirens sing.

Classic Pairing

A classic wine pairing for chocolate is a Port of Tawny Port.

For a Tawny Port look for the Penfolds Club 24 from Australia. About $22/bottle and only found in private stores it is a great value. If you like Fruit & Nut, Almond or Hazelnut infused chocolate, this combination is a winner. Another fantastic option is the Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny ($37)

Chocolate seems to have been made for port. A couple of Port’s that over deliver for the price are the Quinta do Crasto Late Bottled Vintage ($27/bottle) and the Graham’s 6 Grapes ($24/bottle).

Port and Tawny Port are fortified wines which mean they higher alcohol levels than table wines, so if you are looking for some pairing for some table wines lets start with those that go best with Dark Chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Pairing

Dark Chocolate loves Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage (hybrid grape of Pinot Noir and Cinsault).

Here are some of my faves for Dark Chocolate that are currently available:

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia) – $18 available in most government and private stores.

Pey La Tour Bordeaux (France) – $18 available in most government and private stores.

The Den Pinotage (South Africa) – $14 available in private stores only.

Milk Chocolate

For milk chocolate I tend towards juicier wines with soft tannin and a sweeter finish. Although the best pairing for Milk Chocolate is a Port. Here are a couple of table wines for your pleasure.

Apothic Red (California) – $16 available in both private and public stores.

Dream Wines Red Blend (California) – $17 available in both private and public stores.

Segment 3 ~ Special Wines Just for the Two Of You

I know the purpose of the blog is to find the best values under $20, but sometimes you just want to share a special bottle of wine, and Valentine’s Day seems to be the perfect occasion to share something special with someone special. Here are a few choices.

The Colour of Valentines- Rosé

Blue Grouse 2014 Rosé ($18) is made right here on Vancouver Island and is truly a great find.

Celebrate with Bubble

One of the most romantic wines on the market is the Veuve Cliquot (just have your partner say the name and you will know what I mean) – $75 Sparkling Wine or Champagne Section in both public and private stores.

If $75 is out of your price range try the Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay ($22), made in the Okanagan and one of the best Sparkling wines on the market.  Available in private stores only.

The King of Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps the most noble of the noble grapes and here are a couple that are sure to please when the light do down low.

Beringer Knight Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $35 – California section in both public and private stores.

Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $25-$30 – BC VQA section found in only select government and private stores.

Segment 4 ~ What To Expect When You Are Dining Out On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest of the year so if you are thinking of a quiet, slow paced meal, I’m afraid that likely isn’t going to happen. Restaurants will be crowded and to that end many restaurants use a seating system for Valentine’s Day.

Usually the seatings are at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. The most romantic and leisurely paced is the 9pm.

If you are planning on going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, then you should call now.

Here are some classic venues here in Victoria that have fantastic food, a romantic ambience and great wine lists.

Il Terrazzo (click the link for details) – Italian inspired. Incredible Wine List, for the best choice let Rob or your server help you make a choice.

Brasserie L’Ecole (click link for details) – French, Belgian inspired. Outstanding Wine List, for the best choice ask Mark.

Cafe Brio (click link for details) – Mediterranean inspired. Fantastic wine lists, for the best choice check with Greg.

Camilles (Click link for details) – West Coast inspired with a huge BC wine list.

Zambris (Click link for details) – Italian inspired with a brilliant wine list. Each server is well trained on the best wine for each dish, but if you can, ask for Frances.

In addition to the above here are a few other great options that you may not have thought of.

Spinnaker’s Gastro Pub – one of the best settings in the city and it is home to the Spinnaker’s Brewery.

Bodega – one my favourite places to steal away for a romantic morsel or two. Spanish tapas with a totally Spanish wine list.

Bubby’s Kitchen – this wonderful neighbourhood bistro in Cook Street Village has a great wine list (Ca Montebello Barbera is a true jewel) and awesome food.

Best Buy of the Week ~ Paul Mas Grenache Noir

This wine is truly a steal at $11. Generous fruit, well balanced and well made, but best suited to have a nibbly with a glass or have it with dinner.

 

 

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