August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
In 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).
July 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
Heading out of town? Going camping or to the cottage? One of the smartest ways to take wine with you is to take a box of wine; yes a box of wine.
I know the impression is that box wine is total plonk, but here in BC, that is because we have always only known plonk to be in box. The fact is there are a number of great options that provide outstanding value.
For those that don’t know the bag in the box (BIB) format, it is the best way to keep wine fresh over time, it is much lighter to transport than the equivalent number of bottles, and you are typically receiving a volume discount.
When it comes to camping, I like to find wines that will pair well, perhaps not perfectly, but well with classic camping meals. For example we always have hot dogs and beans on the first night, followed by evening meals of chicken, steak, fish and sausage. So we need something that is incredibly versatile in order to make the purchase worthwhile.
To that end here are some of the best values on the market that are versatile, cost effective and damn good.
Vina Borgia Garnacha 3L ~ $35+
This Spanish Garnacha is made by the same people that bring you Borsao Garnacha which gets 90+ point ratings every year and is truly delicious.
3L equals 4 x 750ml bottles thus your average price/bottle is $8.74. Compare that to $13.99 for the equivalent bottle!
Available only in private stores.
Radio Boka Garnacha 3L ~ $35
Again, Spanish Garnacha and really juicy! Ripe raspberry, blueberry and plum. You really can’t go wrong here. Pairs beautifully with grilled chicken, pork, beef, and of course hot dogs and beans.
The bottle equivalent cost is also $8.74.
Available in both private and public stores.
Carawine Rosso 3L ~ $33
This southern Italian blend includes Negroamaro, Primitivo and Merlot and is black in the glass. A little less boozy than the two above, but equally as versatile. Flavours of black cherry, plum, blackberry and pastry. It’s also pretty cool packaging that will get the people in the next campsite asking questions.
The bottle equivalent cost is $8.25
Available in public stores only.
Carawine Bianco 3L ~ $33
This is a fruit driven white blend is really lively and bright. A blend of Chardonnay, Tebbiano and Pinot Grigio, this is a very versatile white. It’s a great pairing for everything but steak, but if you can’t drink red this is pretty damn good.
Bottle equivalent cost is $8.25
Available in public stores only.
Have a great time camping or at the cottage and please drink responsibly!
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
the Dork UnCorked
May 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
We had the folks over for dinner last week and I wanted to provide a wine that is from a road less traveled.
We often think of Italy as red wine producer and it would be easy to overlook a lot of their white wines, but that would be a mistake as there is a world of diversity and incredibly expressive wines to discover.
The Soave region is found in the Northeast of Italy in the region of Veneto, and the primary grape is Garganega. At one point, in the 80’s and 90’s Soave wines were some of the most plentiful in BC. No fewer than 25 graced the shelves of your local liquor store. However times have changed and there is only a handful of options most of which can only be found in specialty stores. So when I spied the Bolla Soave at the very reasonable price of $11 it made perfect sense.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 6.7 Good Drop
The trick to enjoying Soave is to pair it with food. This is when it really comes alive. The nose on the Bolla Soave is a little shy to start so make sure you have it at the right temp. If you take it out of the fridge and there lots of condensation, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes and let it warm up. The nose will show classic notes of melon and red apple, that are matched on the palate.
As I said the trick to enjoying Soave is to have it with food and typically this means grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, and lighter fare. We had it with pork tenderloin and it was pretty decent, would make an okay everyday wine but didn’t wow me.
Grapes ~ Garganega
Store Section ~ Italy
Availability: Both private and public stores.
the Dork UnCorked
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 Gris
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.”
Red ~ Averill Creek Pinot Noir
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.”
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.
May 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
I know that this is a little backwards, but you know what, that is just the way this is going to roll.
Heather from Charelli’s Cheese Shop & Delicatessen was good enough to drop by with a very impressive cheese platter, designed with Mother’s Day in mind.
A word to the wise, if you are looking to order a cheese plate for Mother’s Day, do so Thursday or Friday this week at the latest (once you see the platter you will know why.) To order it is best to call at 250-598-4794.
There was lot’s to cover and lots of great cheese was enjoyed. Below you will find the name of each cheese, a brief description and the wine that I would suggest to go with each. At the bottom of the page I will make some suggestions that should work with the whole platter.
A creamy, ‘tender’ cow’s milk cheese from France. Savory herb and spice flavours.
Red – Lighter bodied wine liked Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. I’m thinking specifically the Cono Sur Bicicletta Pinot Noir (Chile, $11)
White – Sparkling or Pinot Gris. Zinck Cremant d’Alsace (France, $22), Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris (BC, $18)
Beer – A good Pale of Amber Ale.
Balsamic & Onion Cheddar
Wow, lots of great savoury flavours all rolled together. I could nibble this all day. Savoury Balsamic, sweet onion & cheddar. Awesome.
Red – Gabbiano Chianti Classico (Italy, $18) or Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza (Spain, $18)
White – Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (Italy, $15), Campogrande Orvieto (Italy, $18)
Beer – Belgian Dubbel or Tripel
This cheese has a really interesting story to go along with its generous sweet earthy aromas and flavours.
Made the same way for 4000 years this is a sheeps milk cheese made only from Red or Black faced Manech ewes that are native to the French Basque region. It takes 6 gallons of milk, just to make 1 wheel.
Red – Albas Infantes Gran Reserva 2007 (Spain, $14, private stores only), Masia F Tempranillo ($12, Spain, private stores only)
White – Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay (BC, $19), Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay (Australia, $13)
Beer – A nice lager like the Hoyne Pilsner.
This cheese comes from the US and is a Goat Cheese that has a little sliver of ash through the middle. The ash is tasteless and acts and as a natural ‘cleanser’. The cheese is definitely a goat cheese but also has citrus y element. I love goat cheeses and this was a dream, especially the slightly runny part just inside the rind.
Red – Red wine is not the perfect pairing for this cheese, but if you insist on red it should be something with bright acidity, fresh fruit and some earthy character like either a Gamay Noir or Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir – McPherson ‘The Butterfly’ Pinot Noir (Australia, $15)
Gamay Noir – Regnie Maison de Buillaits (France, $20)
White – There is only one type of wine I would recommend with this cheese and that is Sauvignon Blanc!
Lurton Fumees Blanches (France, $14), or Sileni Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, $19)
Beer – Steamworks Jasmine IPA (BC, $6), it is the gentle floral quality of this brew that makes it special for the Humboldt Fog.
Manchego comes from the home of Don Quixote, the plains of La Mancha in central Spain. This sheep’s milk cheese can have grassy flavours if it is young, the one that Charelli’s brought is middle aged and has more of a combination nutty, fruity, grassy kind of flavour. Manchego is one of my go to cheeses when I am at home.
Red – I’m partial to Garnacha with this cheese although I could be talked into a good Tempranillo or Portuguese Castelao.
Garnacha – Borsao Garnacha (Spain, $14).
Tempranillo – Masia F Tempranillo (Spain, $12)
Castelao – Ermelinda Monte de Baia (Portugal, $13)
White – My best pick would be of a Chardonnay that has a little age to it. Something from 2012. Sadly these are little harder to find.
Chardonnay – DMZ Chardonnay (South Africa, $19)
Viognier – Le Paradou Viognier (France, $15)
Beer – A Kolsch (lagered ale) would be great – Spinnaker’s Tour de Victoria Kolsch (Victoria, $12, 6 Pack Cans).
St. Agur is a creamy blue cheese, but not as intensely blue as traditional blue cheese. For this reason it is very versatile. It can be pretty runny which makes it great for dipping.
Aged for 60 days, this cheese has a ton of flavour which makes it a great choice for a cheese plate as it balances the more subtle cheeses.
All I can think about is Port with this cheese, but here are some everyday pairings that will also work.
Red – This cheese would love a big rich, juicy full flavoured red like an Aussie Shiraz or California Zinfandel, and for those a little more adventurous I would go Nero D’Avola or Monastrell/Mouvedre.
Aussie Shiraz – Skulls Shiraz (Australia, $20)
California Zinfandel – Paso Creek Zinfandel (California, $16)
Nero D’Avola – Cusumano Ner D’Avola (Italy, $16)
Monastrell/Mouvedre – El Petite Bonhomme (Spain, $14)
White – Big juicy, unctuous Chardonnay is the ticket.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay – (Australia, $15)
Road 13 Stemwinder Chardonnay Blend – (BC, $16)
Beer – nice malty brew seems to be the best bet here.
Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Ale – (UK, $3, 330ml)
Gulden Draak – (Belgium, $4, 330ml)
This dutch cheese is best known for being low in fat and sodium, and that could contribute to why it is so popular, but my guess is that it is more about the fact that it may be reduced in fat and sodium but it is huge in flavour.
Cantenaar is a medium gouda that offers delightful nutty , buttery flavour.
Red – this cheese is a crowd pleaser and deserves a crowd pleasing wine to go with it.
Grenache – Gayda ‘Flying Man’ Grenache (France, $15)
White – just like the above, I would go with a versatile wine that almost everyone will love.
Prosecco – Ogio (Italy, $17)
Pinot Gris – Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Grigio (BC, $16)
The pairings noted above are to go with each specific cheese, which would be great but you will be left with about 12 bottles of wine to purchase which may not be to feasible, so here are a few suggestions for Mother’s Day that will work with the entire cheese plate, and are versatile crowd pleasers.
Borsao Garnacha – (Spain, $14)
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir – (Chile, $11)
Masia F Tempranillo – (Spain, $12)
Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Grigio (BC, $16)
Campogrande Orvieto (Italy, $18)
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay (Australian, $13)
Ogio Prosecco – (Italy, $17)
Hoyne Pilsner – (Victoria, $6, 650ml bottle)
Spinnaker’s Tour de Victoria Kolsch – (Victoria, $12, 6 Cans)
Well I hope this is helpful and that you enjoy a wonderful Mother’s Day.
the Dork UnCorked
April 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
This was not today’s show, but somehow I forgot to post it last week.
Today’s show was a bit of surprise. Carol had heard about a Mommy & Me tea at the Pendray (Gastby Mansion) and it triggered memories, so we thought we would invite Jayde Eastbrook to come in and tell us about it.
Link to podcast (when available)
Segment 1 ~ The Weather & The Farmer’s Almanac
In recent weeks we have been enjoying some fantastic weather and the question on everyone’s lips was “will this continue?” and for that answer I have turned to the Farmer’s Almanac. I have found it to be a great predictor of long range forecasting.
For years I would get the long range forecast to help predict inventory needs for liquor stores.
The Farmer’s Almanac has been around a long time and has consistently delivered long range forecasts. It reputation for accuracy came close to 100 years ago when it had predicted snow in July. Turns out that a major volcanic eruption in Asia spread high level ash over the globes atmosphere causing temperatures to drop in July, which lead to snow in July. From then on Farmer’s have been turning to the Almanac. I raise a glass to the Farmer’s Almanac.
Segment 2 ~ Mommy & Me Tea (Mother’s Day, May 8)
Jayde Eastbrook joins us to talk about a unique experience that I can only imagine happens in Victoria – Mommy & Me Tea. A chance for mom’s and their kids to get dressed up and go for afternoon tea.
People have taken it to a whole new level of dressing, including Fascinators (this was news to me: huge headdress type units that Kate Middleton often wears), and all of their finery.
Chef has prepared a number of classic and unique offerings that there is something for everyone including a huge variety of teas.
Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year when it comes to restaurants so the Pendray wanted to do something unique.
If you are interested in going it is best to get reservations now. Call the Gatsby Mansion 250-381-3456 and ask to be put through to the Pendray.
Segment 3 ~ Tea Sommelier
Did you know that the Pendray has their own tea? It is a line of teas that is specifically chosen by a Tea Sommelier (Reza Nasooti). Yeah a Tea Sommelier, chooses their teas and then and only for them.
This is something that I will have to do more research on for sure.
Segment 4 ~ Aromatic Whites
With this weather and the thought of floral teas I couldn’t help but daydream about a lovely glass of aromatic white wine.
I started thinking Moscato (like fresh peach juice), Gewurztraminer (lychee nut, pears, spice) or a Riesling (pear, orange blossom).
Here are few of my favourites that you can find in the market right now.
Peter Lehmann Moscato ~ $16, Australia, Private Stores (limited stock).
Innocent Bystander ~ $18, Australia, both private and public stores.
Batasiolo Bosc Moscato ~ $21, Italy, both private and public stores.
Valckenberg Pflaz Gewurztraminer ~ $20, Germany, both public and private stores.
Gray Monk Gewurztraminer ~ $15, BC, both public and private stores.
Cono Sur Gewurztraminer ~ $10, Chile, both public and private stores.
Balthasar Ress Riesling ~ $17, Germany, both public and private stores.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling ~ $17, Washington State, both public and private stores.
Gehringer Private Reserve Riesling ~ $14, BC, both public and private stores.
Best Buy of the Week ~ Gehringer Private Reserve Riesling, $14 – truly delicious Riesling from some of BC’s oldest vines.
Tune in Sat. April 30, 2016 For the Mother’s Day Show – Beer, Wine & Cheese Selections for Mom