April 30, 2015 § 1 Comment
Do you know what the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio is? It’s subtle and with the explosion of Pinot Grigio on the market, the lines have been blurred. Pinot Grigio is about freshness, citrus and minerality in a light bodied wine. It is something simple and refreshing and that is its beauty. On the other hand Pinot Gris should have more body, show tree & tropical fruit flavours and be far more complex. I don’t hold one over the other as each has their place. The trick is to be in the frame of mind to truly enjoy each.
Tasting Notes: This is a simple classic Pinot Grigio. It is pale straw, flinty green in colour and shows good citrus fruits with a mineral backbone. The palate is light and straightforward, while the finish is crisp and clean with just a hint of pear on the finish.
Value: At $10.99, the sale price, this is a steal, at $13.99, regular everyday price, it is a good drop that you won’t be disappointed in.
Added Value: This wine would have added value for Girls Night Out or on Date Night.
Food Pairings: This is a great wine for simple fair. Grilled trout or chicken breast, but perhaps best with a simple plate of fresh fruit, light cheeses, baguette and some nuts.
Service: Chill down and serve.
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: Veneto – The ‘delle Venezie’ region is primarily clay and volcanic soils with some health elements of limestone thrown in the mix. This and the rolling hills of the region account for the citrus and mineral flavours that come through with classic Pinot Grigio.
Grapes: Pinot Grigio
Available: Everything Wine
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PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been unseasonably warm and bright these last few weeks and I can’t help but have my palate turn to fresh whites that are designed, it seems, to pair with bright, fresh Spring days. I contacted a long time colleague and asked him for his reco for best white under $15 currently on the market. Without hesitation he directed me towards the 2013 Domaine de Grachies. Am I glad he did.
This is a blend of 4 grapes of which most are not household names. If you are in the mood for finding a great new white wine experience that you don’t need a mortgage for, here you go.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Flinty gold in colour. The aromatics are tremendous. A fresh combination of jasmine blossoms, fresh pear, some white peach and green apple, and, to top it off, a hint of savoury herbs. The palate is ctirussy and really refreshing. Definitely a delicious reward for cutting the grass, watching the cherry blossoms drop or chatting with songbirds. The finish is vibrant, refreshing and features citrus, pear and dried herbs.
Tasting Notes with Food: I wish I had this with some fresh oysters as I’m sure it would have been tremendous. Instead I had to settle for some cheap brie on Ritz crackers. The wine performed beautifully in reality and virtually, as I considered what it would have been like with fresh oysters on the half shell.
Value: Definitely a great value at $12.99. This wine packs a lot of value into its high-shouldered frame and should be added to everyone’s white wine arsenal for spring and summer.
Added Value: This wines offers added value for those looking to discover new wines, from unfamiliar grapes, from regions outside of their comfort zone. This is clearly an Exploration Wine and would make a great Wedding Wine, Girls Night and Date Night Wine.
Service: Chill down, screw off the top and enjoy.
Grapes: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section: France
Appellation: Cotes de Gascogne
Available: Metro Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Penny Farthing (Victoria), Legacy Liquor Store, Firefly Wines & Ales
March 9, 2015 § 1 Comment
Vinho Verde has long been a favourite of many cork dorks and those immersed in the industry, however its beauty and style has been often overshadowed by the marketing power of major brands and major wine regions. Think of Pinot Grigio meets Sauvignon Blanc. Put another way this wine is like a mash-up of Meg Ryan and Meryl Streep. It is fresh, vibrant, sometimes bubbly, but is also serious, elegant and sophisticated.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is pale straw to flinty green and the nose shows spring blossoms, fresh pear and first harvest green apple. The palate is fresh and alive and filled with vibrancy that lifts the spirits. This finish is surprisingly long for such a light fresh wine with lots of fresh fruit and savoury herbs.
Tasting Notes with Food: I enjoyed this on a fresh, warm spring afternoon with some light cheeses, first of season strawberries, and fresh baguette, truly outstanding!
Value: For $14.99 I would happily choose this wine over many of the whites offered at $14.99. To me this is on a similar scale to classic Italian Pinot Grigio (circa $18) and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (circa $18.99).
Added Value: This is an awesome wine for Weddings, BBQ’s (fish), as a Crowd Pleaser and certainly for Girls Night Out. This wine also has added value as a discovery or Exploration Wine. If you haven’t had Vinho Verde before, you must have this before summer is out.
Score: 8.9 – Over Delivers
Service: Chill down and enjoy. I highly recommend pairing this wine with a back deck or yard and sunny spring or summer afternoon.
Grapes: Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura
Store Section: Portugal
Appellation: Vinho Verde
Available: Everything Wine, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Stores
Buy OnLine: Metro Liquor Stores
February 21, 2015 § 2 Comments
Some of the best buys on the market sometimes are head scratchers. I bought this wine from Cascadia Langford. It caught my eye because of the packaging, the region and the winery. I took it home and eagerly anticipated my first sip. As you will see by the score, for the money, this is, in my opinion, a Best Buy so I contacted the proprietor under the assumption that it was a one time buy or that it was selling by the case and that there was only a few bottles remaining. Her response is the head scratcher “nope, not really moving.” If you love Pinot and would like to have one priced for everyday consumption, this is it. If you have heard lots about Pinot Noir but didn’t want to spend $20+ to get a good one, this is your wine. If you just want a great glass of wine, this is your wine.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark, bright red. The aromas show ripe black cherry, cola, white pepper, and the lovely scent of walking through the forest in fall. The palate is fresh, alive and of light to medium weight. The texture is soft which allows the aromas to express themselves as flavours on the palate. The finish is juicy, somewhat silky, but totally delicious.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with one of my favourite meals. When life insures that we eat a little later than usual, we feed the kids earlier, but wait to sit down to dinner after the fury of the evening is done so we can relax, enjoy each others company and the meal in front of us. Typically this means a simple selection of charcuterie like prosciutto, salami, liver pate, combined with some cheeses that are usually white cheddar, and either brie or Cambazzola. I cut up some baguette, pour some olive oil on to a plate and we are good to go.
The wine showed beautifully. The flavours were incredibly expressive while the body held up to the various fats and acids. The texture became silky and luxurious. For $15-$17, this is a great wine and you should get this one by the case.
Value: As a Best Buy this is an easy trade up from many wines under $14 no matter their type, and, in fact I would save myself a couple of bucks and choose this wine over many $18-$20 wines. I will never give up the diversity of wine for one wine, but I am adding this wine to my go to arsenal.
Added Value: This is an awesome wine as a Crowd Pleaser, would make a great Wedding Wine. Brilliant for Date Nights, Movies Night and certainly for when the Foodies come over. I would also suggest this wine as a great way to explore or introduce yourself or someone else to the beauty of the Pinot Noir grape.
Score: 9.1 – Best Buy
Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe for a few minutes then enjoy.
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Store Section: Chile
Appellation: Casablanca Valley
Available: Cascadia Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
Buy Online: Everything Wine,
February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Plain de Dieu. It was rumoured, in the middle ages, that you put your life into God’s hands if you were to cross the Plan de Dieu in the Rhone Valley of France. I think that it is fair to say that God had a hand in bringing forth some incredible wines from an area that, formerly was the domain of highwaymen and bandits of all sorts.
The Plan de Dieu is a small little area that only produces red wines and has the denomination of Cotes du Rhone Villages, which isn’t as valuable a moniker as Cotes du Rhone. However this is means this region is a source of great value for the money. Cotes du Rhone Villages doesn’t fetch the big dollars on the global market and that means that a wine like the Gabriel Meffre can be on the retail shelves for under $20 while similar quality wines pitch a price tag of $20 and over – Over Delivers.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Dark purple to black in the glass, with aromas of dark ripe plum, cherry, cassis, bay leaf and host of fragrant savoury spices. The palate is round and voluptuous with great balance between tannin and acidity meaning that it has both power and freshness. The flavour punch is an impressive expression of dark ripe fruits and spices. The finish is relatively long and ends with a kiss of spice.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with lamb burgers and it was a great match. The fruit and spice became vibrant while the tannins softened to make the whole experience delightful.
Value: I would definitely choose this wine over a number of the 2012 Cote Du Rhones on the market that are priced at $19.99 and I prefer this wine to that of the La Fiole 2012. If you are used to rich, juicy powerful Shiraz’s from Australia this might not be your wine as the flavours and textures are finer. Well worth the exploration.
Added Value: This wine really shines as a Foodie Wine or BBQ wine. If either of these categories describe your activities, then give this wine a shot.
Score: 8.8 – Over Delivers
Service: Let breathe for 30-45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah
Store Section: France
Appellation: Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone Village
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot, Everything Wine
Buy Online: Everything Wine,
February 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Uco Valley of Argentina is one of my top ten wine regions to visit in the world. Not only does it offer stunning beauty, but it produces my favourite ever Pinot Noir, Malbec, Chardonnay and, yes Pinot Gris. It is a small area in comparison to appellations in California or Australia, but the wines tend to offer great flavour, texture and balance and because it is not as well known as other regions of Argentina, the wines generally drive greater value than what their price suggests.
I have experienced many a Lurton wine and have seen them expand their wings into various regions outside of France, and I’m not surprised at all that they are in the Uco, in fact I’m impressed.
Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of Pinot Gris. There are many that are well made, but there are other profiles that when using my own money, I would buy over Pinot Gris.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a flinty pale straw. Likely best described as the colour of filtered sunlight at midday. The aromas show pear, citrus, melon and some lovely minerality. The palate is fresh, balanced and complete; there are no holes. The flavours match the aromas and there is a juicy pear ‘center’ that is really appealing. The finish is crisp and juicy.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a simply grilled Tilapia filet and it worked beautifully. Tilapia is relatively light and it was seasoned with some herbs (taragon, parsley, basil), butter and a touch of lemon. The fruit in the wine came alive and made the meal greater than the sum of its parts; isn’t that what you want from a Monday night dinner? Why not make Monday special?
Value: I know that many will dislike the following comment, however this wine is every bit as good as BC Pinot Gris’s at $17-$20. I would happily trade up a couple of bucks from wines such as Woodbridge (California), Yellow Tail (Australia) and Nederburg (South Africa).
Added Value: This wine has added value for those looking for Wedding Wine. It makes a fantastic Girls Night Out and Date Night Wine, and it is very much a Crowd Pleaser.
More To The Story: I love that this wine immediately took me to the Uco Valley. I could feel the gentle breeze on my face, the dryness of the air and the vista as I looked up at the snowy peaks of the Andes. For me if there is a signature of a great wine, this is it. If it can transport me to a place, whether an idea or memory of a place, it has made a positive impression.
Score: 8.7 – Over Delivers
Service: Chill down and enjoy. Make sure that it is not too cold. You will be able to tell if there isn’t a juicy ‘middle’ to the wine.
Grapes: Pinot Gris
Store Section: Argentina
Appellation: Uco Valley
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
February 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are very few proven facts about wine. One of the only things about wine that we know for sure is that one size does not fit all. Unlike the soft drink, beer and electronics industry, one brand does not dominate the market and to me that is apart of the eloquence and seductiveness about wine. Every wine has a story. Some are liked by many, and some are liked by a few, but there is a home in the heart of someone for every wine. This wine for me is no exception. It didn’t wow me, but I can see how it would be ‘crave-worthy’ to many. There are lots of attractive elements and that is why this was a difficult wine to review for me. I get the distinct impression that in a couple of years the oak and fruit components will have found peace and work together. At present they seem a little at odds. I came down to the conclusion that to a specific segment of the wine drinking population this wine would be all they ever wanted from a $15 and more wine. For me it was a better than the average Good Drop, but lacked complete balance to get an Over Delivers rating, hence I rated this at the highest end of the Good Drop range. I’m glad to have had the experience.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Dark red to purple in colour (classic Tempranillo colour). The nose is dominated by oak but lurking in the shadows is some delightfully ripe red and black fruits and black pepper spice. On the palate you will immediately notice some structure and power (tannin), while the fruit flavours come out a bit more. There is still a good dose of oak that seems to be contesting the fruit for center stage. The finish is of medium length and you will get a big kiss of oak at the end.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a simple chicken dish that featured lots of savoury flavours and was of medium weight. The wine definitely stood up to the challenge, however near the end of the meal the oak really started to express itself.
Value: For those that usually buy Apothic or other lavishly oaked wines this is a definite winner. It provides excellent value for the price if you are willing to explore a bit.
Added Value: This wine would shine as a BBQ wine as long as the BBQ featured grilled red meats. I would also suggest this wine would be awesome with some hot buttered popcorn on Movie Night.
More To The Story: Oak ageing was an unquestioned part of the wine business until the mid-90’s when there was a huge backlash to the amount of oak influence on a wine. The backlash was so significant that hundreds of wines started appearing boasting the fact that there was no oak used in the making of the wine. Brands like Naked Grape too hold of the market. The effect was so comprehensive that it became very difficult to find wines that were proud of their oak ageing. Gone were the ‘buttersticks’ of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Thank goodness the pendulum is starting to swing back because oak, when used well, can add so much to a wine. Flavours like caramel, cinnamon, and butter are a function of oak and not of the grape. Oak can also have a positive effect on the texture of a wine. It can soften sharp edges, it can add complexity, and when used with malolactic fermentation, it can give a wine a pronounced creamy texture and finish. In the late 80’s and early 90’s this wine would be at the top of the list, 10 years ago it would have been completely banned, now it is apart of a welcome swing of the wine pendulum.
Score: 7.4 – Good Drop
Service: Pull the cork and let it breathe for at least 30 minutes to let the fruit aromas and flavours express themselves. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, run it through that a few times and you are good to go.
Store Section: Spain
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
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