Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir

February 21, 2015 § 2 Comments

imagePrice: $14.99-$16.99

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,

Alcohol: 14.5%

Penfold’s Koonunga Hill 2012 Shiraz-Cabernet

January 29, 2015 § 4 Comments

Price: $16.29-$17.99IMG_0723

The Shiraz-Cab blend is the best of the Koonunga Hill red wine line up. The Shiraz has big opulent fruit, but lacks some structure and finesse. The Cab shows great structure, but lacks big bold fruit. The good news is that the Shiraz-Cab is masterfully blended to showcase each grapes strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Having said that this is a Good Drop and decent value for the money, however at $14.99 or $15.99 I would have said this Over Delivers. If it every goes on sale for $15.99, buy it!

Tasting Notes Sipping: First impressions mean a lot. Either your impression is confirmed or shattered and that makes a difference how you approach people or a wine. In this case the colour is a deep ruby red giving you the impression that the wine will be big, ripe, expressive and round. It is.
Aromas of dark fruits, red berries, chocolate, pepper, spices and even a little vanilla. The palate is ripe, juicy and round. Pretty hedonistic and very easy to enjoy. The finish is of medium length, juicy, sweet tannins and just a hint of spice.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with left over Roast of Beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and raw veggies. I think the gravy over powered the wine, but it was a great match for the beef and potatoes. I would imagine that this would have been brilliant with some grilled lamb, or burgers.

Value: This wine shows decent value for the price, as I have said before, and it is well worth the trade up from items like Yellow Tail. I would even trade up in price from Apothic for this wine. As for competitors in the Australian category at a similar price, it would all depend on the occasion or the food. A big thick steak would mean a quality Cab Sauv like Wolf Blass. A burger or if I’m in a happy go lucky mood, definitely this wine.

I would also suggest that this wine offers better value than Skulls Shiraz at $19.99.

Added Value: Having a BBQ, this wine shines with BBQ. Whether it is southwest style or burgers and such. It is also a great Crowd Pleaser wine that may also appeal the the wedding goer… as long as you have the budget.

More To The Story: Penfold’s has been around for 165 years. That is a long time to be around. In that space of time they have become of Australia’s most recognized exports which means it is really difficult to remain relevant to the consumer. I know that there has been some significant re-direction of funds to product from marketing and I think that is brilliant. After all if you want to remain relevant, the best course of action is to consistently produce a great product.

Score: 7.4  – Good Drop

Service: Twist the cap and let it pour. Room temp is ideal, unless room temp is 30°C, then chill it down to around 18-20°C

Grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: South Australia

 

Alcohol: 13.5%

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Montalto Pinot Grigio

January 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Price: $11.492015/01/img_0719.jpg

There are thousands of Pinot Grigio’s in stores these days. After tasting many they divide themselves into two groups- Marketing & Classic. The ones in the marketing group are those trying to take advantage of the popularity of the name Pinot Grigio. Those in the classic range are those that share classic Pinot Grigio aromas and flavours. The Montalto Pinot Grigio falls into the Classic group and certainly Over Delivers for the price. Having said that there are wines on the market at $13-$14 that I think are a better buy, even a Best Buy, hence why this one didn’t get the highly coveted Best Buy rating.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a light shade of pale straw, while the aromas are of citrus, hints of pear and mineral. Mineral is a positive thing and is a classic characteristic of Pinot Grigio. Think of it as that delicate hint of wet rocks you get from fresh mountain stream water… if that helps. The palate is light, fresh and crisp without being watery. Flavours of lemon and lime marry with Bartlett pear and minerality. The finish is crisp, short and refreshing.

Tasting Notes with Food: This is a sipping wine or a wine that should be paired with light foods such as salads, fruits or very mild cheeses. I love good rustic bread, specifically, traditional Boule. It comes in a round and has a thick crust that wraps itself around a bouncy, rustic bread. I had this wine with some Boule that I dipped in olive oil and a pinch of salt and it was phenomenal. I swear you can close your eyes and place yourself in Italy. The fruit flavours of the wine popped right up while the fresh, crisp acidity worked really well with the olive oil and the bread. The touch of salt and the olive oil integrated with the minerality of the wine to make it better than the sum of its parts.

Value: Definitely worth the trade up from pretenders like Barefoot, Copper Moon and such. However I would choose the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio at $13-$14 over this wine when I’m feeling a little more flush.

Added Value: This wine shines as a Crowd Pleaser or Wedding Wine as it is simply enjoyable. I would also suggest that this wine has added value for Date Nights or Girls Night Out.

More To The Story: Sicily is not normally where you find really good Pinot Grigio. However the slopes of Mt. Etna have volcanic soils and are steep enough to cool the grapes at night. As a Cork Dork there is something else in that statement that shows extra value in the wine. Typically wines in this price range are not hillside grown as harvesting can be more expensive. I’m very happy to see that the proprietors at Montalto have found a way to deliver a wine of this quality, at this price to our market.

Score: 8.6  – Over Delivers

Service: Chill down, but not too cold. You will know when it is too cold by the fact you simply get an acidic wine without a lot of fruit flavours.

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Sicily

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine

Buy Online: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 13.2%

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2015/01/img_0719-0.jpg

Jackson-Triggs Reserve or Black Label 2012 Merlot

January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.8 – Good Drop2015/01/img_0685.png

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Classic Merlot nose of plum and spice. Dark purple in the glass and the palate is ripe and round with flavours of plum and hints of black currant. The finish is juicy, with soft tannins and has a medium length.

Value: The simple economics of operating a winery makes it really difficult to produce a quality BC grown wine for under $20, so I have to give this wine some kudos for being able to deliver this kind of quality to the market year after year. To that end I would likely save a buck or two and pick this wine over Fetzer Merlot or $15-$17 Chilean Merlot. Would I trade up from $12 South American Merlot? Yes if it was straight merlot, not likely if Carmenere was in the blend. In fact I would choose a $12-$14 Chilean Carmenere over this wine.

Added Value: This wine has added value for those having a BBQ or looking for a Crowd Pleaser wine for when the family comes by.

More To The Story: This wine is indicative of the unique character of the wine business in B.C. The identical wine is sold under two different labels. One label, Reserve, is for BC Liquor Stores and the, Black Label Series, is for private stores. The craziness of the current system means that a wine sold to BC Liquor Stores isn’t worth carrying in private stores, so for the winery to gain distribution in private stores they had to create a second model. It is the the BC liquor industry’s version of a TV model for Future Shop and one for Wal-Mart, although they are the exact same TV.

Service: Twist the cap and serve. No need to breathe just let it rip. As for food I would serve this with grilled steak or a roast chicken.

Grapes: Merlot

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Wolf Blass Yellow Label 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.0 – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0682.jpg

Price: $17.99 (also available in 375ml and 1.5L bottles)

About the Wine: The wine that started it all for Australian wines in Canada 30+ years ago is classic Aussie Cab. The nose shows rich, ripe berry, cassis, eucalyptus and spice, while the palate is full, layered and complex. Flavours of cassis, berry, spice and mint dominate the palate. The finish is medium to long in length and is awesomely juicy.

Value: This is a much better wine that wines like Apothic Red and Cupcake Cabernet. In both cases I would recommend the trade up in price. I would also recommend that you save a couple bucks by trading down in price to the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cab from Louis Martini Sonoma Cab and The Show Cabernet Sauvignon.

Added Value: This is a great BBQ wine, and really shines as a Crowd Pleaser or on Move and Date Nights.

More To The Story: A little inside information. The grapes from this wine, although it is not on the label come from the phenomenal Cabernet region of Langhorne Creek. I understand that it will be on the label with the next vintage.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed a renaissance in quality. A few years back the decision was made to get more money out of the brand by reducing the cost of the grapes. Predictably the wine started to get thin, unappealing and would have been given a Waste of Wine rating. However a few years back a new team took over the brand and the winemaking. They decided to invest millions in new winemaking facilities, vineyards and people. I had written the wine and the brand off, until a good friend told me I was an idiot and that I should give it another whirl, I’m glad I did.

Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe or run it through your Vinturi. Grilled up a big thick steak and take it all in. It is also a great pairing with poutine, yup poutine.

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: Langhorne Creek

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Liquor Depot, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Liquor N’ More Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Express

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 13.0 %

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Dunavar 2013 Pinot Grigio

January 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.4- Good Drop2015/01/img_0680.jpg

Price: $10.99

About the Wine: This is a really good value Pinot Grigio. True to the grape there is melon and citrus aromas and flavours, while the palate is crisp and elegant. Classic.

Value: Definitely worth the $1 trade up from Copper Moon or Naked Grape Pinot Grigio and much closer to a classic Pinot Grigio than many of the Aussie and Californian offerings at $12 or $13.

Added Value: Where this wine really shines is with simple Comfort Foods. This is a great ‘Tuesday’ night wine but I want a little complexity with more complex meals. Very much a Crowd Pleaser and a great Wedding Wine.

More To The Story: In the mid 19th Century all the way up until the mid 20th century, Hungary’s status as a wine region was similar to that of Portugal or Greece. After the Iron Curtain fell on the country following WWII, quality viticulture and winemaking were in very short supply as was the wine itself (most going to Moscow instead of London or New York).

Since the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late ’80s more and more investment has been flooding into Hungary. Some of the biggest names in wine like Rothschild and Vega Sicilia are spending big dough on upgrading vineyards, wineries and re-establishing a winemaking tradition.

Hopefully we will soon see more than just low-end Pinot Grigios and Muscats, and we will start to see some premium quality indigenous and classic wines.

Service: Chill down and serve, that’s about it. For what to have with it, Pesto pasta, mild cheeses, pizza, grilled or roasted chicken.

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Eastern Europe/Other

Appellation: Hungary

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Cascadia Liquor Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 11%

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Ogio 2013 Primitivo

January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.9 – Good Drop2015/01/img_06681.jpg
Price: $12.99

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.

Grapes: Primitivo

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

Alcohol: 14.0%

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