October 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
The data shows that household spending drops well below the annual average in the weeks following Thanksgiving up until the 3rd week of November.
The fact is that you don’t have to give a good glass of wine with dinner or after a hard day, you just have to find the best of the ones that fit your budget.
What follows is a list of 3 whites and 3 reds that provide great value and don’t break the bank.
Jean Louis Blancs de Blancs (Sparkling) – An everyday Sparkling wine. Yeah that’s right an everyday sparkling wine to celebrate life’s small victories. Delightful ripe apple and pear, a very decent mousse for the price. Just a fine glass of wine for the price. ~ Score 8.2/10 ($12.99-$14.99)
Cono Sur Gewurztraminer – For those who enjoy a lighter style wine that is a touch sweeter. This is a light bodied quaffer that shows flavours of lychee nut, white peach and pear. ~ Score 7.9/10 ($9.99 – $11.99)
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay – A richer wine that embodies the sun of the country it comes from. Tropical fruit flavours with a touch of caramel on the finish. I love this wine as it has not really changed its price since the wine came into the market back in the early 90’s. ~ Score 7.8/10 ($10.99-$12.99)
Giacondi Sangiovese Merlot – Buy this one by the 1.5L (Magnum) as it works out to being about $6/Bottle. This wine is one of the most consistent and best values on the Market. Cherry, berry and plum flavours with a medium body. Do me a favour, let this wine breathe for 15-30min. before enjoying. If you do you will be handsomely rewarded. ~Score 7.9/10 ($11.99 1.5L)
Tocado Grenache – This is a super juicy, ripe wine and it will be tough to stop at one glass. Ripe raspberry, currant and blueberry flavours with a gentle soft palate. I know you can get this at Cascadia stores for $11.99 and $9.99 if you buy it by the case… and it is worth buying by the case. ~ Score 7.8/10 ($9.99-$11.99)
Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah – I would be hard pressed to find another wine of structure that provides better bang for the buck. The Tocado above is all about juicy-ness and a soft palate, this wine has some structure and is filled with plum, blackberry and cassis. ~ Score 7.6/10 ($9.99- $12.99)
September 8, 2016 § Leave a comment
The main thrust of this blog is to weed through the masses of under $20 wines to find the true values. Having said that, every so often I come across a wine that is over $20, that grabs my attention and excitement. This is one of those wines.
Released to the market in the last week the Black Hills 2014 Syrah. Black Hills has a long history of producing great wines including Nota Bene, so I was really looking forward to tasting this year’s release of the Syrah.
I will cut right to the chase, I was totally enthralled with this wine. I was expecting a meaty, leathery Syrah with some big aggressive tannins; after all it is a new release. What If found was a wine with wisdom beyond its years.
Deep purple in the glass and ripe fruit aromas with hints of smoked meat and tobacco leaf. The palate was deep and engaging with a finish that showed finesse and the quality of the fruit.
I could easily see purchasing this wine as a gift or for a special evening like a date night or celebrating one of life’s victories. I’m even motivated to get on the Black Hills mailing list, and get myself a case as I don’t think this will last long in the market, even though the price will be $35-$45 in private stores… if you can find it.
Price ~ $35-$45
Score ~ 8.9/10 Points – Best Buy
The reason I would buy a case of this as I would be really curious to see how this wine develops over time. The vineyards for this wine are primarily sandy which is great for fully developing fruit flavours and ripening, but makes developing the acidity necessary for aging a challenge. When I taste this the acid is bright and lively, and I suspect that this wine will age well.
As for food, we had this with a pork roast and root vegetables and it was awesome. The fats in the pork roast allowed the fruit and savoury flavours in the wine to shine through.
Grapes ~ Syrah
Availability ~ Fine Wine Stores, Restaurants, Winery
Store Section ~ BC, VQA
Next Up: Tasting Aged Wines
September 8, 2016 § 4 Comments
After a bit of a summer ending break I am back it and will have a number of posts in the coming weeks.
First will be my take on a new release wine out of the Okanagan (yeah, you want to get on this wine). Followed by some notes on tasting aged wines and then a review on a wine that you likely all remember, but have likely forgotten.
Anyway I will talk to you all soon.
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 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
Rock the Shores happens again this weekend and my long term colleague Glen Barlow has put together some great bevvie choices.
Among them is one of my favourite Rosés on the market right now, the 2015 Quill Rosé from Blue Grouse. Think of how beautiful it would be to listen to so awesome music while being warmed by the sun all with a glass of Rosé in hand- heaven and a little touch of what life is like in many other parts of the world.
Outside of the Quill Rosé, here is the list of beverage options this weekend.
Blue Grouse Quill White
Blue Grouse Quill Red
Blue Grouse Quill Rosé
Merridale House Apple
Merridale House Dry
Phillips Brewing Blue Buck
Phillips Brewing Analogue Kolsch
Phillips Brewing Pilsner
Phillips Brewing Bottle Rocket ISA
Phillips Brewing Shortwave
Phillips Brewing Raspberry Wheat
Phillips Brewing Electric Unicorn
Ready To Drink
Palm Bay Red Ruby Grapefruit
Jim Beam Bourbon & Lemonade
Jim Beam Green Apple & Soda
July 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
This week saw a first from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch; an apology letter.
A letter was send to every wholesale customer of the LDB. Given that they have a monopoly on all imported product and spirits, this mean close to 12,000 businesses was saw this letter.
The letter starts with an apology for all the shorted orders and out of stocks that have recently plagued the LDB Wholesale Centre. Over the last 3 years fulfillment rates have dropped to 91% yet overall revenues have grown to over $3B. What this means is that $300M in demand has gone unfulfilled and lost to the province’s general revenue.
The letter goes on to name a few causes. Technical, which I totally understand given that they are using databases that were old in 2009 to run $2B worth of orders through, and capacity. The first of these is easily solved and they are in the process of doing so, however the second is a little harder to solve politically although dead easy operationally.
Operationally you would simply lease more warehouse space or trucks, so why is this not happening now? Who doesn’t want an extra $300M in the coffers each year?
The answer is that the government would have to take legislative action to allow non-LDB distributors to deliver directly. All of a sudden this isn’t a revenue issue, it is a political issue, specifically political capital issue, and that is why it hasn’t been solved.
It is sad and you can’t blame the people working at the Wholesale Centre, they are doing what they can. The blame rests on the shoulders of politicians who can’t seem to see the forest through the trees, no matter what side of the political fence they sit.
Solving this issue will take bi-partisan leadership which is something that BC has lived without for decades.
This is just my opinion so if you have other solutions then by all means post them 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!