Simple Life 2013 Pinot Noir

September 9, 2015 § 2 Comments

Price: $12.99Simple Life Pinot Noir

Score: 8.8 ~ Over Delivers

There is a great deal of animosity and distrust between private liquor retailers and the government run, BC Liquor Stores, so it isn’t very often that I get a tip on a great buy from a private retailer about a wine than can only be had at BC Liquor Stores.

Based on the recommendation by my colleague I rushed over to the nearest BC Liquor Store that I knew carried the Simple Life Pinot Noir and grabbed a bottle. Man was I happy that I did.

The nose shows cherry, pomegranate, a hint of cola and white pepper, while the palate if richly textured and full of flavour. That said there are a number of Pinot’s under $20 that can produce similar olfactory and taste enjoyment, but to me, the real test comes in the finish. If it shows the silky, seductive finish of top quality Burgundy, New Zealand, BC, Oregon and California Pinot Noir, then deserves high praise indeed.

Although not as pronounced as its brethren in the $25-$45 price range, this Pinot has a wonderful silky finish that puts it, in my opinion, well above other Pinot Noir under and over $20 in terms of value. If I were you I would be buying this wine by the case now so that you have it on hand at Thanksgiving, my Wife’s 40th birthday (yes you are all invited, but you have to bring a bottle of Simple Life Pinot), and Christmas, as I don’t imagine there will be much of it around in a few months.

Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores

Section: California and/or Exclusives

Closure: Screwcap

Food: Have this with roasted poultry, mild cheeses like gouda, soups, duck.

Prospect 2013 Larch Tree Hill Riesling

June 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

6.6/10 ~ Good Drop & I Like It!Prospect 2013 Riesling

Price: $11.29- $12.99

It was 25C yesterday afternoon and the thought of having a red wine just seemed wrong. So I marched off to one of the many local stores and went straight for the whites. I walked in the store thinking either Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. I wanted a crisp, lively, vibrant to caress my palate. I know that I haven’t written much about local wines or VQA wines in general so I thought I would take this opp and grab a well priced Riesling from a producer that I know has always made solid wines, so I grabbed the Prospect Riesling (FYI the packaging has been updated from the photo. Still recognizable from the photo but with more quality and heritage cues). Riesling has, ironically, been the darling of cork dorks and low-end wine buyers for generations. The cork dork crowd can wax poetically of the subtle, seductive nuances of a single vineyard Riesling for hours, but that wine is likely $30. It should blow your hair back at that price. On the other end the low-end sweet German generic Rieslings are still the stable of many in the world, however they have always let me down for value. Great value in Riesling means your mouth feels alive, that your words dance off the tongue and everything is dripping with honeyed positivity. This is what I look for in a Riesling and what I want on a warm summer day. Tasting: The colour is bright flinty straw and the nose shows jasmine flavours, honeyed apricots and pears. The palate is fresh, clean, lively and relatively fruity. Value:It does lack some of the nuances and vibrance that would have gotten it an Over Delivers or Best Buy rating, but it does have the stuff worth of a Good Drop rating and I do like it. You certainly won’t be disappointed with this wine as it does offer decent value for the money. Added Value: The first thing that pops into my head when I think of when and where this wine would be most appropriate is either as a Wedding Wine or as a Date Night Wine. Food Pairings: Fresh fruits, salads, mild cheeses. Great for Sea Bass and cod, even a grilled chicken with a citrus salsa. Service: Chill down, twist the cap and serve. Grapes: Riesling Store Section: BC VQA Appellation: Okanagan Available: BC Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Store Alcohol: 12.5% Cheers The Dork UnCorked PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Borsao 2013 Garnacha

June 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

8.7/10 ~ Over Delivers & I Love It!Borsao Garnacha

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

Appellation: Borsao

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor

Alcohol: 14.5%

Sileni Cellar Selection 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

May 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.9 ~ Over DeliversSileni Sauvingon Blanc

Price: $14.79 (not including taxes)

There is lot’s to love in a nice chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Clearly because it is one of the most sought after white wine in the world and it fetch’s some of the highest average prices. The challenge in finding real value is finding the differences that add instead of taking away. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can be ‘in your face’ Sauvignon Blanc which has a tendency to overshadow and positive nuances. That is what I like about the Sileni 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is a well balanced wine that shows its New Zealand pedigree well, but allows for some beautiful highlights to shine through. I would have rated this much higher if it were a couple of bucks less.

Tasting Notes: Bright zesty citrus, mineral and cut grass on the nose that is matched on the palate. The palate is fresh and clean and shows subtle floral highlights like jasmine and violet. The finish is clean and vibrant making your mouth water in anticipation of the next sip.

Value: Amongst other similarly priced New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs this wine over delivers, however there are a few entrants from France and Chile that deliver similar quality but at a lower price.

Added Value: Having a seafood BBQ that includes some oysters and maybe halibut, this wine has added value for you. This wine has special value for Girls Night Out and a summer Date Night.

Food Pairings: Like I said above this is a great wine for oysters (grilled and half shell), grilled halibut and grilled chicken. It is also a wonderful pairing for some aged Gruyere cheese.

Service: Chill down and serve.

Store Section: New Zealand

Appellation: Marlborough

Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores

ABV%: 12.5%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Domaine Houchart 2013 Cotes de Provence Rosé

April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.7 ~ Over DeliversHouchart Rose

Price: $15.69-$17.99

Classic Rosé is perhaps one of the most romantic wines there is. Just one whiff of the aromas and a peek at the colour and you will immediately transport yourself to a grassy hill covered with rosemary and lavender, over looking the Mediterranean sea. You look up towards the sun and you can feel its warmth envelope your soul. There is a gentle breeze on your cheek. You take a glance over at your soul mate and she/he has the same smile of pleasure. Without saying a word your pour yourselves a nice glass of chilled Rosé, pop a few fresh strawberries in your mouth, grab some baguette that you purchased fresh, not more than an hour ago. After a few morsels you lose yourselves in the present and …..

Tasting Notes: The colour is salmon, light pink rose. The aromas show fresh strawberries, cranberry and hints of white pepper. The palate… the palate is where the romance is. The texture is crisp almost crunchy, which brings out the fresh strawberry and red tree fruit characters. This wines truly refreshes the palate… and soul.

Value: This is a classic southern French Rosé and as such stands out. If you would like to see why the French, Spanish and Italians choose Rosé first and foremost over their summers, this wine will show you the way.

Added Value: This wine truly shines on Date Nights and as a BBQ Wine for seafood or Salmon BBQ’s.

Food Pairings: Great choice for Cedar Plank Salmon, salads, fresh fruit and light creamy cheeses. Perhaps the best pairing is a view, a blanket, a baguette, some cheeses & fruits, and a summer afternoon to spend together.

Service: Chill down and enjoy.

Store Section: France

Appellation: Cotes de Provence – This region is the same that you have read about in Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence. The summer air is warm and enveloping and has the scent of Thyme, Rosemary and lavender. Romance is everywhere.

Grapes: Grenache, Syrah

Available: Hillside Liquor Store, BC Liquor Stores

ABV%: 13.0%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Fascino Passo 2011

April 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

Fascino Passo 2011Score: 9.3 ~ Best Buy

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.

Price: $17.99

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

ABV%: 13.0%

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.

Top 5 Red Wines for Easter 2015

April 3, 2015 § 1 Comment

I can still recall a time not that long ago when red wine sales were a fraction of those of white wine. It was cool to order a glass of “dry white wine”. Then reports hit the media that red wine had restorative properties and a glass or two a day was recommended for healthy living, so the pendulum rapidly swung in the opposite direction. At one point in the early 2000’s red wine represented 90% of all wine sales. The pendulum has again started to swing back and now 6 of every 10 bottles of wine purchased are red. The selection of red wine doubles that of white, with the vast majority being priced between $7 & $20. Finding wines that represent true bang for your buck is a a great challenge and one that I happily have embarked upon.

Here are my Top 5 Red Wines for Easter 2015 that are currently on the shelves.

1) Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcinoimage

Truly one of the Best Buys on the market no matter what the price. Although it is showing a little weariness from its peak, it still represents incredible value. Lush, complex, expressive, deep, succulent, silky are all words that could be applied to this wine. Looks for aromas and flavours of ripe and sour cherries, savoury herbs, plum, subtle white and black pepper spice. The palate is silky and complete from start to finish.

Rosso di Montalcino is the little brother of Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello is one of the world’s most sought after, iconic wines in the world and the price reflect that (average $60-90/bottle). Rosso is a younger expression of Brunello and thus is usually about half the price ($30-$45/bottle). When this wine hit the shelf at $16.99 I was more than a little suspect, but was I pleasantly surprised. I think my own enjoyment of this wine could be approaching 36-40 bottles since its release.

The only challenge here is finding it. As far as I can tell there are only a couple of stores that currently have stock and that is dwindling. When you do find it, open it and give it a couple of hours to blossom.

Score – 9.4/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$16.99

Available Cascadia Colwood & Uptown.

Link to the original review: Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcino

2) Masia F Vino Tintoimage

I first bought this wine because it looked like the kid on the playground that always gets picked last. Here is a wine whose packaging is not going to sell it, in fact, in a retail setting, the packaging makes it disappear on the shelf. Am I ever glad that I took the chance. If I didn’t know the price I had paid for it, I would have pegged it at around $16-$18/bottle. For $12.99 this is a steal.

Aromas are both fruit, floral and savoury herbs. While the palate is round, soft and very flavourful. Look for plum and red berry flavours, black pepper, hints of violet and velvety smooth.

Like the Rosso di Montalcino above, this is a hard one to find, but when you do buy it by the case.

Score – 9.3/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$12.99

Available at Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Spinnaker’s James Bay. 

Link to original review: Masia F Vino Tinto

3) Terra Andina Carmenere-SyrahIMG_0660

I have been enjoying this wine for over 15 years. My first taste of it was in Chile while on a buying trip. It was one of the few wines on the trip that showed ripe fruit, complex flavours, and a round, rich texture. It was indeed available in BC, however the price was around $14.99-$15.99. Now that it is hovering around the $10 mark, and has only improved over the years (more mature vines), it is a steal. In fact if you are planning a wedding or having a whole bunch of people over for Easter dinner, and need multiple bottles of something, go out and get a case.

Aromas of ripe plum and dark berries and black cherry. Under the fruit you will sense savoury spices, hints of clove and perhaps even a touch of bacon. The palate shows similar flavours and is juicy, ripe and round.

Score: 9.1/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$10.99

Available in almost all private stores including Cascadia, Metro, Everything Wine, Hillside Liquor Store

Link to original review: Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah

4) Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noirimage

Good Pinot Noir can be seductive, sultry and very sexy. I have heard some people suggest that great Pinot Noir doesn’t have aromas but pheromones. By no stretch of the imagination does this wine compete with the greats of Burgundy, New Zealand, BC and California, but it does have many of the characteristics of the greats, but at 20% of the price.

There now exist many quality Pinot Noirs on the market under $20, but few have the combination of complexity, flavour and texture that this one has. Look for aromas and flavours of dark cherry, earth, black raspberry, black pepper and a delicate hint of cloves. The texture is silky and seductive, so much so that one should be in a resting position to enjoy this as it is kind of like a nice neck rub or massage.

Score: 9.1/10 Best Buy

Price: ~$14.99

Available in Cascadia, Metro Liquor, Hillside Liquor Store, Everything Wine.

Link to the original review: Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir

5) Artesa 2010 Rioja
IMG_0724

I love the wines of the Rioja (a close second to this one is the Lopez de Haro 2010 Rioja Crianza). The red wines of this region are a wonderful blend of elegance, perfume, ripe fruit, texture and power. For a cork dork like me, I can get lost in a wine like as it takes me on a trip through the hills, valleys and simple cafes of the region.

The Artesa shows lush ripe berry and plum fruit, is wonderfully perfumed, and has the power to stand up to a thick steak, while having the elegance to enhance the nuances of more delicate meats. I would highly recommend this wine if you are having a classic Easter Ham this weekend.

Score: 9.1/10 Over Delivers

Price: ~$14.99

Available in Metro Liquor, Cascadia Liquor Stores.

Link to the original review: Artesa 2010 Rioja

I hope that you have enjoyed this list and from me and my family have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Cheers

Dork UnCorked

Charles & Charles 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah

March 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

imageScore: 7.9 – Over Delivers

Price: $17.99-$19.99

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

ABV%: 14.5%

 

Domaine de Grachies 2013

March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

imageScore: 8.8 – Over Delivers

Price: $13.99-$15.99

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

Buy OnLine: Metro Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Firefly Wines & Ales

Alcohol: 11.5%

Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcino

February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

imagePrice: $16.99

From the ranks of the hard to find beauties comes the Buon Tempo Rosso di Montalcino. I dare say that this blog won’t be reviewing too many Rosso di Montalcino’s as most of them start around the $30. In fact this is the first in my 25 years in the game here in BC that is priced under $20 and it is a true treat.

About a year ago you would have been able to find this in many of Vancouver’s and Victoria’s finer wine shops, and it was gobbled up very quickly. Fortunately I stumbled upon a few bottles that were gracing the shelves of the Cascadia Colwood store (I think there was a total of 13 bottles left after my purchase). As I bid farewell to the very pleasant cashier my mouth began to water with anticipation. Would it be as awesome as I remembered it? Afterall it was a child of the incredible 2010 vintage. How could I go wrong?

Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a deep rusty crimson and the nose is wonderfully expressive. Aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, savoury spices like sage and a beautiful perfume of purple flowers such as violets. The palate is rich, vivacious and luxurious showing why the wines of Montalcino are in such hot demand. Flavours of cherry, plum and spice unfold as if blossoming on the palate. The finish is long, velvety and rich in flavour and spice.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this with grilled chicken thighs that were spiced with Greek Spice and the pairing was a delight mostly because the wine was so good. Wines like this have such finesse and grace that they rarely over power a meal and are almost never overshadowed by the dish. The fruit and spice flavours came alive and my palate was kept fresh and wanting of the next bite.

Value: Given the rare nature of this wine I would highly recommend making this your choice this week (last week of Feb. 2015). I would forestall all others and enjoy this wine.

Added Value: This wine shows added value as a Foodie Wine, a great choice for a Date Night and is awesome for Comfort Foods. For those not familiar with the wines of Montalcino but have always wanted to try here is your chance to Explore this great region.

Score: 9.4 – Best Buy

Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for at least 45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times.

Grapes: Sangiovese

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Montalcino

Available: Cascadia Liquor Stores (Colwood for sure, call the others to see if they have stock).

Alcohol: 14.5%

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