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
February 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache, or Garnacha, is a grape on the rise and that is good news for those seeking great wines but don’t want to sell the farm to do so.
Most famously Grenache is a key to Chateauneuf du Pape, but it is also the main grape in regions of Spain such as Calatayud and Carinena, and these are where some of the greatest buys are hailing from.
Garnacha is a late ripening grape that requires a lot of heat to reach its full potential, hence you will only find a few expressions grown in the very southern reaches of the Okanagan in BC.
Garnacha is truly a crowd pleaser grape. Dark juicy fruits of raspberry, plum and blackberry, low in tannin meaning very little pucker. The only challenge is keeping the acidity up in order to insure a balanced wine.
Crowd Pleaser is definitely the phrase I would use for the Castillo de Monseran. Dark juicy fruit, very soft and brilliant with casseroles, Mac N Cheese or Pizza.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ 7.3/10 Over Delivers
This wine scores high on the value meter and would have scored higher is there is a little more depth to it. Having said that as soon as I paired it with food it was brilliant.
If you haven’t added Garnacha to your repertoire of wines, this is a great one to start with and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg.
Grapes ~ 100% Garnacha
Store Section ~ Spain
Availability ~ available in both private and public stores.
the Dork UnCorked
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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September 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.2 ~ Good Drop
If an all powerful being were standing in front of me and saying that they will take away all of my problems and those of my family, but I had could only drink the wines of one region for the rest of my life, it would be Chianti (if any of you reading this are all powerful, give me a ring, let’s talk!).
This wine needs to some time to show its true nature. I tasted this over 3 days and left it open to the air all three days. The first day the nose was muted and the palate fine, and fresh, but it didn’t so much other than some youthful vigour (after all just over 1 year ago this wine was grapes on a vine). Day 2 showed much more. Finesse, refined textures and some good cherry flavours. By Day 3 it was heavenly – wonderfully perfumed, delicious, plum nectar and cherry, velvety finish with some spice and floral characters, depth, depth, depth.
If what I tasted on Day 3 was what I tasted on Day 1 then this would easily have been a Best Buy wine. It’s a good drop, made better by patience. If you have the patience to let it breathe then this is a great buy, if you are like most people and want it to perform in the glass straight away, then there are others I would recommend.
Purchase At: Cascadia Uptown
Food: Great with Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, smoked cheeses.
August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Full disclosure, Chianti and Chianti Classico is a true love of mine. I’m not sure how or when, but the supple texture, rich seductive body, cherry flavours, floral elements along with savoury spices are a baseline for me. I can easily sink into a glass of Chianti Classico like a great book.
$20+ for Chianti Classico is t be expected and thus I’m looking for it to deliver more than a simple Chianti or Sangiovese at $15. When I say more I don’t mean more density or stronger flavours, rather I’m looking for greater complexity of flavours and structure. I’m looking for find more flavours and flavours that work together. I’m looking for a more supple and seductive bottle that what I am likely to find in a $15 wine. Sadly I didn’t find that here. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to like and love in this wine, but it is not that dissimilar to the flavours and texture found in regular Chiantis such as Gabbiano, Cecchi and Frescobaldi.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Foods: Pastas, Pizza, roasted chicken or pork, hard cheeses, comfort foods and foodie foods.
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
May 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
May is not only glorious for weather here on the West Coast of BC, but May also brings the first Grand Tour of the Pro Cycling Season – Giro d’Italia. The third week of the Giro is the toughest week as it winds its way through the hills and mountains of Tuscany. In light of this fact, and that I am serious fan, I thought I would test run a wine that has long been on the market here in BC – Monte Antico.
The Monte Antico has great, rustic, old school packaging and is, now, conveniently, under screwcap, which I really like for wines under $20.
Tasting Notes: The colour is dark crimson and the nose shows dark cherry, leather, earth, and savoury spices. The palate shows similar flavours but has added the added complexity of plum and raspberry fruit flavour, hints of dried cocoa and pepper. The palate is of mid-weight and can stand up to most comfort foods from grilled chicken dishes to steak. The finish is round and juicy leaving you with the delicate marriage of cherry, plum and spice flavours.
Value: As much as I enjoyed this wine, I found that I wanted more out of it for the price. It certainly has more complexity than the big brand names out of California, and the flavours are well honed, but I would have rated it much higher if the price was a buck or so lower.
Added Value: This wine has added value as a pairing for Comfort Foods, as a BBQ wine and for those looking to venture into the wines of Italy/Tuscany for the first time.
Food Pairings: Comforts such as pizza, pasta, grilled chicken or steak, casseroles, firm cheeses, lasagne, Mac ‘N Cheese and cold cuts.
Service: Twist the cap and let breathe for 15 minutes or let it run through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Store Section: Italy
Grapes: Sangiovese, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon
Purchased From: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village.
Also Available At: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
The Dork UnCorked
PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
April 9, 2015 § 1 Comment
You know how some scents can instantaneously transport you back in time. My grandfather used to smoke White Owl cigars and when I was a kid I used to climb up onto his lap and he would tell me stories of his hockey playing days. His favourite cardigan held the subtle scent of a freshly unwrapped cigar. Some of my best and favourite memories of being with my grandfather automatically invoke the wonderful, delicate aroma of an unwrapped cigar. As I first opened this wine and put my nose to it, I was immediately transported back to my grandfather’s lap. It brought a smile both to my face and heart.
Tasting Notes: The colour is dark red with violet highlights on the edges. The aromas show red tree fruit such as cherries, ripe black plums, hints of violet and licorice and something that I absolutely adore, the scent of a freshly unwrapped cigar. The palate is velvety, juicy, well balanced and of medium to full weight. Flavours of cherries, leather, savoury spices, dried plums and pepper come alive. The finish is almost silky and juicy with a final cherry kiss at the end.
Value: This is a case buy for sure. After my first purchase I have gone back and grabbed few more bottles. If I have $18 to spend I would be hard pressed not to make this my choice if I were having lamb, beef, or just a simple platter of cheese and charcuterie.
Added Value: This wine really shines as a BBQ Wine, Comfort Food Wine and because of its sultry, velvety nature, as a Date Night Wine. I would also highly recommend this wine to anyone who is looking to explore either unique grape types or regions.
Food Pairings: As mentioned above, this wine works beautifully with roasted or grilled beef or lamb, but my favourite pairing is a simple platter of cheeses, cold cuts, olive oil and some olives.
Service: Room temperature is best and let it breathe for a good 20-30 minutes. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, run the wine through a couple of times and you are good to go.
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: Salento – The Salento region of Italy is on the heel of the Italian boot. As you can imagine it is a very warm region which produces voluptuous red wines that are very dark in colour. Did you know that Primitivo is the Italian cousin of California’s Zinfandel. Have a little fun and try a Cali Zin beside a Salento Primitivo and sense the differences.
Grapes: Negromaro, Primitivo
Available: Everything Wine
The Dork UnCorked
PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
March 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
It was a cold and rainy night. Seriously it was. After an unbelievably beautiful warm Spring, this day was cold, wet and miserable as is expected on the West Coast at this time of year. That inspired me to find an under $20 Washington State wine that would warm the soul with its power and elegance.
It is remarkable to me that the wines of Washington State are not more popular. Typically they feature robust Cabernets and Merlots, meaty Syrahs, and refined whites. I suppose part of the issue is the fact that most stores shelve the few Washington State wines that we have here in BC, in close proximity to the numerous California based offerings. However overshadowing, more often than not, has the effect of giving more bang for the buck.
Tasting Notes: The colour is deep dark reddish purple which immediately conveys power and intensity. The nose shows cherry, plum, cassis and just a hint of smoked meat and black pepper. The palate is rich, juicy and very well balanced. This is not a simple juice bomb but offers lots of juicy character with the added bonus of being elegant and fresh. Look for flavours of black cherry, plum and pepper to dominate. The finish is juicy and of medium length showing some sweet and bold tannins.
Value: This is a great wine for those who love big bold Cabernets but want something with a little more finesse and elegance than the juice bombs of California (Apothic, Cupcake Red Velvet).
Added Value: This wine would shine at a BBQ, with Comfort Foods and for a Date Night.
Food Pairings: This wine loves a big steak that is simply seasoned with Salt and Pepper or Montreal Steak Spice. This is also a great choice for Spaghetti and Meat Balls, Pizza and, of course, Sunday Night Roast Beef.
Service: Open this up and let it breathe for about 15-20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times.
Store Section: Washington State or USA
Appellation: Walla Walla
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