June 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
You know that part of the store that you walk past each time. Typically it is the dark corner where the dust bunnies hold their daily get togethers. This is where retailers categories that have the lowest sales, but have enough sales to justify being in the store.
I often have walked right by the section but the other day I stopped. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was feeling what it was feeling- I just need some love. Maybe the dusty bunny chatter was getting loud and it caught my attention. Anyway I stopped, looked and found the next wine that I had to buy.
When you think of Italian, French or Spanish wines you likely conjure up visions of rich colours, sensous landscapes and, of course, a couple of little old wizened folk that make the vision complete.
But what of Bulgaria? If you are like me you are likely thinking of row upon row of drab gray concrete Soviet era buildings, with downtrodden colourless people strolling the pock marked, beaten up streets. Hardly inspires confidence or enthusiasm for the wine, but this is exactly where you find great buys; where they are unexpected.
I reached out and firmly grasped the Lovico Gamza by the neck, wiped off the dust, and proudly presented it to the cashier who immediately tried to sell on an Aussie wine. Nope! I’m going Gamza!
Price ~ $9.99
Score ~ 7.8 Over Delivers
I have to say I really got into this wine. I pulled the cork and did my first taste and I thought “funky”, so I let it breathe for 20-30 minutes. Yes a $10 wine that needs to breathe.
When I can back to it the aromas had blossomed and were so intriguing. One would be forgiven if you thought Cabernet Franc. No wait, it must be Pinot. No, no there is too much spice, maybe Gamay Noir. Wow what is Gamza!
Gamza, it turns out, is related to that other household name, Kadarka. When I taste it I can’t believe that its not the distant cousin of Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc.
Aromas of crushed red berries, cherry and grapes, with spice and pomegranate. The palate is light to medium bodied, hence I wouldn’t suggest those that buy $10 Malbecs run out and get this. Yet there are some many interesting things going on in this wine.
I gotta say that for under $10 the Lovico Gaza was a great find and one that I will definitely seek out again.
Grapes ~ Gamza
Store Section ~ Eastern Europe
Availability ~ most private and public stores.
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 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
It is amazing what the combination of proper merchandising and the feeling of optimism can do.
I was in one of my local shops the other day when I got a call from a potential client. This is a company I have been working on for the last 6 months. Finally the call came in that they we were coming on board. That added a little kick in my step and so almost automatically my budget went up. You know the feeling. That celebratory sense, even if it was only a small victory. Initially I was looking for something in the $12-$15 range, with this news I felt justified to go to $18.
I wandered through the BC, Californian, Chilean and Spanish section and nothing really grabbed my attention. I turned the corner and the Chateau Pesquie caught my eye. Not because of the packaging as that is a little dull, but because it comes from a region that just tastes like optimism and blue skies. It was also on sale making it almost irresistible.
Price ~ $19 ($18 on sale)
Score: 8.4 Over Delivers (7.8 at $19)
The wine pours the colour of blackberry and blueberry juice and nose shows savoury spices, black fruits, plums and red berries. The palate is at once elegant and full with big rich flavours, even a little bacon in the finish… just a little. There is a ton of complexity on the palate and as the wine lingers it seems to unfold, or blossom, to reveal more layers of flavour.
This wine comes from the sunny slopes of Mount Ventoux. If you were to spend some time in the region you would notice that the air is filled with the scent of peppery spices, but in the evening the peppery scent is joined by the lovely gentle whisps of BBQ, which is perfect because this wine is so incredibly suited to grilling.
Pair this wine with grilled meats of all stripes. Rubs of savoury spices are heavenly.
Grapes ~ Grenache, Syrah
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both private and public stores.
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.
February 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
I was feeling like I was on top of the world. The sun was out, the kids were happy, business was positive and I wanted something that had some depth, substance and a strong sense of destiny. As I was strolling the Italian section I saw the Tormaresca Trentangeli. I have had and enjoyed the Tormaresca Neprica ($14-$16 private stores only) on a number of occasions and loved it, so I thought I would put on my wings of exploration and take on the Trentangeli.
Price ~ $18
Score ~ 8.2/10 Way Over Delivers
The Neprica is a blend of Negroamaro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Primitivo, whereas the Trentangeli is a blend of Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and the difference is striking.
Trentangeli and Neprica share a well balanced nature with a vibrant heart, but this is where any similarities end. Trentangeli is dark, deep, substantive with a well defined body. As I was filled confidence and feeling bold this was the perfect wine for me.
Black in the glass with aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, black currant/cassis, savoury spices, hints of smoked meat. The palate shows depth, structure and some muscle, the kind of muscle that suggests that any challenge is welcome.
My mood called for a meal that would stick to my ribs. Something like steak, a hearty pasta, cheesy dishes, roast Pork or pork chops. In my case we had a grilled steak and it was fantastico!
Oh and here is a bonus – the grapes for this wine are organically grown.
Grapes ~ Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
Store Section ~ Italy
Availability ~ both private and government stores.
When you head out looking for this wine, please let the store know who sent you.
the Dork UnCorked.
November 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
There has been lots of talk about the recent changes in Liquor retailing and laws in B.C. Have you ever wondered how we got here? It is a very colourful history and beautifully told in two parts by storyteller Chris Mathieson. Here are the show notes for Part 1.
Link to podcast: The Wonderfully Colourful History of Liquor Laws in BC Part 1
How to get a hold of Chris…
Facebook – Chris Mathieson
Twitter – @cogno
Website: Old Grist Mill & Gardens
Best Buy of the Week: Borsao Garnacha
Coming up next week – Part II
DYK (Did You Know) that Australian Shiraz is the same as Syrah? The terroir & climate insure that the Australian expression is unique in the world of Syrah, as such it didn’t seem right to call it Syrah, so the powers that be in Australia decided to call their expression Shiraz after the name of the town in Iran where the initial clippings of Syrah were found.
Thanks for being a part of the Dork UnCorked, see you again next week.
the Dork UnCorked
September 9, 2015 § 2 Comments
Score: 8.8 ~ Over Delivers
There is a great deal of animosity and distrust between private liquor retailers and the government run, BC Liquor Stores, so it isn’t very often that I get a tip on a great buy from a private retailer about a wine than can only be had at BC Liquor Stores.
Based on the recommendation by my colleague I rushed over to the nearest BC Liquor Store that I knew carried the Simple Life Pinot Noir and grabbed a bottle. Man was I happy that I did.
The nose shows cherry, pomegranate, a hint of cola and white pepper, while the palate if richly textured and full of flavour. That said there are a number of Pinot’s under $20 that can produce similar olfactory and taste enjoyment, but to me, the real test comes in the finish. If it shows the silky, seductive finish of top quality Burgundy, New Zealand, BC, Oregon and California Pinot Noir, then deserves high praise indeed.
Although not as pronounced as its brethren in the $25-$45 price range, this Pinot has a wonderful silky finish that puts it, in my opinion, well above other Pinot Noir under and over $20 in terms of value. If I were you I would be buying this wine by the case now so that you have it on hand at Thanksgiving, my Wife’s 40th birthday (yes you are all invited, but you have to bring a bottle of Simple Life Pinot), and Christmas, as I don’t imagine there will be much of it around in a few months.
Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores
Section: California and/or Exclusives
Food: Have this with roasted poultry, mild cheeses like gouda, soups, duck.
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
July 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
I bought this wine because I was in the mood for a hedonistic fruit and baking spice explosion, and because McLaren Vale is the source of my favourite Aussie Shiraz’s.
There is a lot more finesse in this wine than what I was expecting… and that is a good thing. This wasn’t your run of the mill fruit bomb explosion so it kind of missed the mark there, however it more than made up for it with finesse.
The trick here is to let it breathe. I had this wine open on my counter for 4 days. Tasting on days 2 and 3 were far better than day 1 or 4.
The nose shows classic dark fruit, smoked meat and a little purple flower thing that I really liked. The palate is richly texture but not bomb-ish, and it was very well balanced with the alcohol (14.5%) and not boozy. Flavours of blue and blackberries with some cardamom and bergamot spice thrown in for good measure.
This is a great wine to have with grilled lamb or a pizza with prosciutto on it.
Score: 6.9 – Good Drop – Certainly an enjoyable wine, but I thought I got what I paid for, but what I am looking for is a wine that exceeds what I paid for it.
Purchased At Everything Wine
July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Laya 2013 is a great value for those looking for a big punch of flavour. If you are feeling bold and like a bull in a china shop, as my mother used to say, this is the wine for you.
Dark almost black in the glass with a huge nose filling aroma of crushed ripe black raspberry, bing cherry and black plum. There is also a hint of pastry and thyme.
The palate is big and bold and just a little boozy which is not surprising given that it is 14% alcohol.
A great wine for Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket or anything lathered in BBQ sauce.
Keywords: bold, juicy, boozy, bbq
Value: 7.4 – Over Delivers… as long as you are looking for a whallop.
June 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
6.6/10 ~ Good Drop & I Like It!
Price: $11.29- $12.99
It was 25C yesterday afternoon and the thought of having a red wine just seemed wrong. So I marched off to one of the many local stores and went straight for the whites. I walked in the store thinking either Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. I wanted a crisp, lively, vibrant to caress my palate. I know that I haven’t written much about local wines or VQA wines in general so I thought I would take this opp and grab a well priced Riesling from a producer that I know has always made solid wines, so I grabbed the Prospect Riesling (FYI the packaging has been updated from the photo. Still recognizable from the photo but with more quality and heritage cues). Riesling has, ironically, been the darling of cork dorks and low-end wine buyers for generations. The cork dork crowd can wax poetically of the subtle, seductive nuances of a single vineyard Riesling for hours, but that wine is likely $30. It should blow your hair back at that price. On the other end the low-end sweet German generic Rieslings are still the stable of many in the world, however they have always let me down for value. Great value in Riesling means your mouth feels alive, that your words dance off the tongue and everything is dripping with honeyed positivity. This is what I look for in a Riesling and what I want on a warm summer day. Tasting: The colour is bright flinty straw and the nose shows jasmine flavours, honeyed apricots and pears. The palate is fresh, clean, lively and relatively fruity. Value:It does lack some of the nuances and vibrance that would have gotten it an Over Delivers or Best Buy rating, but it does have the stuff worth of a Good Drop rating and I do like it. You certainly won’t be disappointed with this wine as it does offer decent value for the money. Added Value: The first thing that pops into my head when I think of when and where this wine would be most appropriate is either as a Wedding Wine or as a Date Night Wine. Food Pairings: Fresh fruits, salads, mild cheeses. Great for Sea Bass and cod, even a grilled chicken with a citrus salsa. Service: Chill down, twist the cap and serve. Grapes: Riesling Store Section: BC VQA Appellation: Okanagan Available: BC Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Store Alcohol: 12.5% Cheers The Dork UnCorked PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.