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
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February 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache can be so freakin’ delightful. Brimming with fresh raspberries, cherries and spice, and if from Europe, an earthy-spicy undercurrent that is both seductive and luxurious. The other thing about Grenache is that is usually used as a blending grape to tame the wild boldness of Syrah. To this end wines that feature Grenache are often under priced for the value they deliver. The Paul Mas Grenache Noir is just such a wine.
Price ~ $11.29
Score ~ 7.2 Over Delivers
The Paul Mas Grenache Noir has a wild side. Under the flavours of ripe raspberry, blackberry and cherry is some delightful earthy, leather and black pepper spices.
When sipping this wine on its own it lacks a little depth which I am willing to forgive for the price but is easily made up when having with a nibble of cheese (Cheddar) or a creamy pasta, roasted or grilled chicken. When paired with food the flavour sing to the heavens, and that makes me smile.
Grapes ~ 100% Grenache
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both government and private stores.
the Dork UnCorked
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June 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
Price: $13.29- $14.99
“Oh man!” she said “you really have a pair of nards if you think you can get Stone to drink wine.”
“Good news! I have such a pair of nards” I replied. “Here goes”
Wines like this one make me want to share the joy of exploration with everyone, even those that may be dead set against trying anything new or different.
Upon tasting this wine I could see myself at a BBQ with friends and I was doing what I normally do when I come across a wine that I love, especially one that will set you back less than $15.
Garnacha or Grenache is a grape that one could easily love. Soft juicy tannins, doesn’t like too much oaking, has fantastic fresh berry flavours and undertones of black pepper. For this reason it is the backbone of some of the biggest wine crazes and most sought after wines ever seen, and in my opinion for introducing the beauty of wine to new drinkers and generations.
Remember the tsunami of juicy red wines from Australia in the late 90’s? That wave was fuelled in large part by Grenache’s supporting role of Shiraz.
I’m sure you have heard of Chateauneuf de Pape? The wines of Chateauneuf de Pape are prized because of their balance between power, finesse and fresh fruit flavours. What is the backbone of Chateauneuf de Pape you ask? – Grenache.
Tasting: The colour is a deep purple red. The aromas are of crushed raspberry, blueberry, lavender and black pepper, while the palate is juicy, full, richly textured and balanced. The finish is a juicy kiss of purple flowers, juicy berries and black pepper.
Value: This is awesome value for the money. In fact I would suggest that you walk right past the California and Argentine sections and head right to the not-as-crowded-as-it-should-be Spanish section and load up.
Added Value: This wine has added value for so many occasions – it’s a great Date Night, Movie Night, Girls Night Out, Comfort Food, Foodie, Exploration, BBQ wine.
Food Pairings: Anything BBQ’d including burgers, steaks, pork, chicken, even halibut. Also a great pairing for roasted meats, Pizza, cheeses like Gruyere, Gouda and Cheddar.
Service: Twist off the cap and let the pleasure begin.
Grapes: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon
Store Section: Spain
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor
March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.8 – Over Delivers
As I strolled the aisles of the liquor store on a Saturday afternoon I came across this wine. What I was looking for was a Bonarda but in this store the Argentine red wine selection was limited to 30 Malbecs, 5 Cabs and 1 Syrah. Given that I was out of luck on the Bonarda, and dinner was fast approaching, I went looking for the wine that presented the best value for the money.What I mean by this is to find the wine with the best packaging, the highest accolades at the lowest price.
Ta Da! TintoNegro 2013 Malbec. At $13.99 and 90 Points from the Wine Advocate, the TintoNegro was the clear choice.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Deep dark purple, almost black in colour. The nose if brimming with a complex combination of dark berry and tree fruits, dark earth, leather and savoury herbs, that are at once bright and muscular. The palate big and boozy and full of power. The tongue is struck by the bold dark fruits wrapped in spicy leather… think of a spicy fruit leather.. without the big sugar. The finish is long, a bit boozy and brooding.
Tasting Notes with Food: This is a wine for a big thick steak. I particularly liked how this wine worked with a steak smothered in Montreal Steak spice. While sipping the fruit is somewhat muted, but with the steak and the spice the fruit shines through.
Value: For $13.99 you should buy this wine… perhaps by the case… assuming you like big boozy wines. If power and weight are key to your enjoyment, this offers both in spades and more so than most in this price point.
Added Value: This wine offers huge added value to BBQ’s and Comfort Foods. It also a nice choice for Date Nights.
Service: Twist off the cap and let breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times. It is not common to aerate or breathe a wine at this price, but this is a testament to the quality of this wine.
Store Section: Argentina
Appellation: Mendoza – The Mendoza appellation encompasses all the sub-appellations in the Mendoza area including the highly touted areas of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley.
Available: BC Liquor Stores
March 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
Seductive, tantric, beguiling, these are words I usually use for the wines of the Langhe region (same goes for Barolo and Barbaresco). With visions of sultry seduction I happily purchased this wine made by the Batasiolo winery.
My eyes grew wide as I twisted the corkscrew into the pliant cork. The long cork slowly broke free of its glass bonds. It took every inch of will not to seek immediate pleasure and pour myself a glass. I could hear the wine slosh deliciously as it poured forth… but no, I had to wait if I wanted to taste and enjoy the wine at its climax.
I put the bottle aside and waited for 30min. The wait was made easier by getting the update on the day from my wife and kids, but then moment finally came where dinner was served, and I could put my whole being into the sensory enjoyment of this wine.
I have to say that the wine did not fulfil my expectations. It is a blend of 3 grapes that can make some incredible wines on their own and it seems that together they served to mute their greatness instead of coming together to make something mind-blowing. It was kind of like the anticipation I had for the Canuck season when they had Messier, Mogilny, and Bure and we all know how that worked out.
Don’t get me wrong, the wine is solid and good, but does it deliver more value considering its price? Unfortunately this wine is fairly priced and thus is a Good Drop.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark purple with deep crimson edges. The nose is muted and somewhat confused. I was looking for the wonderful perfume of Nebbiolo or the bright juicy fruit aromas of Barbera. There were little bits of each, but they weren’t immediately present. The palate is rich and full and shows layers of complexity right from the start through the finish. Flavours of ripe plum, red berries, dried herbs and savoury spices glide across the palate and lead to medium length finish.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had gone to the store to find a wine that would work well with the Spaghetti Bolognese, what better choice than one from the Langhe region. The wine worked well with the meal as it did not shy from the richness of the sauce. The texture of the wine is what made this pairing work best.
Value: This is a good wine and I would suggest this as good introduction to the wines of the Langhe region. However if you are looking for something to blow your mind for the price… this isn’t it.
Added Value: This wine has added value as an Exploration Wine, BBQ wines, as a Foodie Wine and as a pairing for Comfort Foods.
Service: Let breathe for 30-45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo
Store Section: Italy
Available: BC Liquor Stores
March 2, 2015 § 3 Comments
Best Buy – 9.3/10
This wine is the embodiment of the purpose of this blog. It is one of those wines that enters the market without much hope of discovery or success, but to those that find it, they are over-joyed.
Tasting Notes: Bright red berries and fruit with some ripe plum underpinnings greet the nose. The colour is dark crimson and the palate echos the nose. The palate is complete, there are no holes in this wine. The texture is bright, supple and of mid-weight. The finish is of medium length and features the juicy red berries prominent on the palate with the addition of delicate savoury herbs.
Value: At $$10.99-$13.99 this is a killer deal and is a case lot buy… as long as you can find it. This wine truly represents killer value and I would happily seek this out.
Added Value: This wine shines as a Foodie Wine, Crowd Pleaser, BBQ and Comfort Food wine. After all many of the dishes we consider Comfort Foods or ‘everyday meals’ were crafted by peasants in Spain, France and Italy.
More To The Story: As I mentioned above this wine is an example of the purpose of this blog and shows that the diversity of the wine world means that one can’t assume that price or brand awareness will guarantee quality. This wine is imported by a small agency and I can see how most would overlook it. The packaging is dull, the bottle inexpensive, it isn’t blessed with a D.O. certification. I can also see where the price might scare some people away as being too cheap to possibly offer quality, but for those intrepid buyers who take the time to move beyond convention, they will be rewarded. For those readers that need a little more convincing that they should be buying this buy the case, This wine is the house wine at the world’s only 7 star hotel, Bariq Al Arab. Fine praise indeed.
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times. I love having to let a wine of this price breathe. Complexity and character develop as if a blossoming flower.
Store Section: Spain
Available: Spinnaker’s James Bay, Spinnaker’s Vic West, Metro Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Store, Vintage Wines & Spirits, HIllside Liquor Store, One20 LRS, Cork & Barrel, Sooke River Hotel, Liquor Planet.
January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.9 – Good Drop
About the Wine: Think of a blackberry, plum pie. Rich in ripe and baked fruits, with very subtle undertones of spice and white pepper grab the nose and palate. The texture is lush and lacking in fresh acidity which means it won’t last that long after opening (24-36 hours) and is not designed for ageing. The finish is juicy and gives you a parting kiss of sweetness in hopes that you will be back. Overall a good, hedonistic drop that provides decent value for the price.
Value: This wine is a direct competitor for the likes of Yellow Tail and Apothic. Priced the same as Yellow Tail and thus, for my money I would buy Ogio Primitivo every time. As for Apothic, I think the $4 spread between the two makes the Ogio a better buy, however I’m not so sure if the price gap were to be reduced to $1 or $2, which, given the shifting value of the Canadian dollar against the Euro and the US, is possible.
Added Value: The wine has added value for those that are wanting a sipping wine and aren’t to interested in food to go with it. That means it works well when serving the crowd. If food is to be involved then make it BBQ and then you definitely have a winner.
More To The Story: Primitivo is native to the Puglian peninsula of southern Italy; the heel of the Italian boot. ‘Primi’ in latin means early and Primitivo is an early ripening grape, but its background is the story of Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses.
During the 17th and 18th centuries Italy and the Balkans were a plethora of principalities. Political alliances were often consummated by marrying of a princess to a prince and that is exactly how Primitivo took root in southern Italy.
To form an alliance with a Puglian King based in Lecce, the Croatian King was prepared to marry off his daughter to the Puglian King’s son. The dowry included some livestock, gold, silver and grapevines which were often used as currency. In Croatia the vines are called Crljenak (Krel-yen-ak) Kastelan-ski. The name was ‘latinized’ to Primitivo and because they were ‘royal’ vines, enterprising vignerons started planting them throughout Puglia.
DNA testing has suggested that Primitivo is the European cousin to California’s Zinfandel and there are many flavour and aroma similarities.
Service: Twist the cap off and let if flow. There is no need to let this wine breathe. As for food a big juicy BBQ steak or burgers is the way to go.
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: There isn’t an appellation on the label but I do know that the winery is from the Puglia region of Italy, the home of Primitivo.
Available: BC Liquor Stores
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