June 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of the things about the wine business is that it is a business of passion. I can tell you there isn’t a lot of money in it, and if you were to ask anyone involved they are not in it for the money, they are in it because they love it. So it is sad when you hear that a talented, passionate importer has decided to pack up and move to a different industry because he can’t make ends meet. The silver lining however is that he has reduced the prices on a number of products in his portfolio. Including the Alba de los Infantes 2009 Gran Reserva.
For those that don’t know for a Spanish wine to be called Gran Reserva is must be aged 2 years in barrel and further 3 years in bottle. What this means is that the wine grower and the wine maker saw something in the quality of the grapes and resulting wine that was special. So special that they decided to assume the added cost of a min. 5 years of ageing.
Typically the price for a Gran Reserva wine from Spain starts at the $22 mark and goes up, way up from there. So when the importer told me what the ‘clearance’ price was I started to salivate. It took a while for me to find some bottles in stores, but when I did I was over the moon.
It is not too often that a wine gets a Best Buy rating from me, as it truly needs to punch well above its weight to do so, but this is one.
Price ~ $12.99
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
It may only be $13 but please let it breathe for at least 30 minutes. If you do you will be rewarded.
The colour is a dark red/purple and the nose shows bright red and blue berries, with some spice and leather.
The palate shows a ton of fresh fruit, while the texture is supple and richly textured. The finish shows generous berry and black tree fruits along with some sensuous savoury spices.
I know that I will be buying this by the case.
This weekend all the dad’s in the family will be enjoying a barbeque, and that is exactly what I would recommend for this wine. Slow roasted ribs, grilled meats, chicken. This would also be a delight with some medium aged cheeses right up to some top quality manchego.
Grapes ~ Tempranillo, Garancha
Store Location ~ Spain
Availability ~ Limited to private stores. I got mine from Spinnaker’s James Bay.
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
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
June 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m a podcast junkie. In fact I almost never listen to the radio in the car anymore, unless I’m with my kids and then I get my quota of pop songs that all sound alike and have the same theme. One of my favourites is the TED Radio Hour. The theme of a recent episode was ‘Storytelling’ and it immediately grabbed my attention. For the last number of years I have been thinking about writing a book. No not another diatribe about tasting wine in fantastic places or about the vagaries of the BC liquor system. Rather a book of fiction.
Wines, unlike other things, seem to tell me a story, either about themselves or about those who also enjoy the wine. This is why this particular podcast grabbed me. Two takeaways from the podcast were ‘tell stories about what you know’ and ‘let the subject should tell a truth about you’. No I am motivated. I seem to have greater clarity as to what and how I am to write my book. What you will find in each post from now on, is I will try to put into words the story the wine is trying to tell me and hopefully, that will also tell me a truth about myself.
The Muga 2014 Rosé gives me the impression that it is the mental floss or ‘romantic comedy’ of this illustrious winery. Muga is a great producer of top quality Rioja. Although each wine is brilliant and showing enticing finesse, they are also very serious wines. You know the type. If this wine was a colleague it would be that guy that is both brilliant, fastidious, and necessary for success, but who would feel totally uncomfortable at a music festival or in a food fight. The Rosé on the other hand shows that the winery has a soft, whimsical spot, that takes the tension away and adds some softness to an otherwise stalwart exterior. In fact, as important as the brilliant, outstanding and fastidious wines are to the winery, it is the Rosé that is the love that makes all the wines a family.
Tasting Notes: This pale pink Rosé has a classic red berry/cherry nose which is repeated on the refreshing, crisp palate. Many Spanish Rosés feature an undertone of black or white pepper spice that is not really evident here, however if you slow down, taste slowly, and let the wine caress the palate in a deliberate manner, then indeed there is just a hint of pepper.
Value: I think I got good value for my money, and I was craving a Rosado, however it didn’t blow me away and I’m not sure I would ‘camp out’ on this one. I’m already thinking of what Rosé I will try next.
Added Value: This wine is really good wine for those looking to explore the whimsical side of Rioja or need a well made wine to pair with a specific dish when the Foodies come over.
Food Pairings: I had this with some light triple cream brie and it worked beautifully. I would say that if you go with young cheeses and some fresh fruit, you will have it nailed.
Service: Chill this wine down, pull the cork and serve.
Grapes: Viura, Garnacha, Tempranillo
Store Section: Spain
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
January 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.0 – Over Delivers
About the Wine: This wine showcases all the reasons why Rioja has long been compared to Bordeaux as one of the great wine regions. To be honest there are not many Riojas that come into BC that can be retailed under $20, most are in the $30-$50 range and higher. Having said that it better wow me at close to $20 as I am likely only going to be opening this for special company or, when I’m feeling flush, on days with a ‘y’ in them.
The aromas are classic Rioja which means there is dark plum, black currant, violets, savoury spices and dried herbs. Hints of leather and wet earth round out the nose. The palate is equally complex and as the wine washes over it more and more flavours unfold. There is a bit of smokiness that comes through on the mid-palate that is reminiscent of a gentle waft of burning leaves on a crisp fall day. The texture is inviting but also firm like a good handshake. The finish is of medium length and features the fruit and spice found on the nose.
You can probably tell that I love this wine, however as it is priced close to $20 I expect the wow factor and it meets my expectation but doesn’t go beyond, and that is why I scored it as Over Delivers instead of Best Buy.
Value: If I had $20 to spend this would be among my first choices. I was having ham or roasted chicken with rosemary it would likely be my go to over $16-$17 Chianti, Barbera or Bordeaux.
Added Value: Where do I start? This shines and is always a smash hit with the Foodie Crowd, and I have often made it a choice for Date Night or Movie Night if the movie is a drama (Rom-Coms, need a far more whimsical wine).
More To The Story: There are lots of stories in the media and online that speak to the fickleness of wine critics. In studies wines are presented to certified judges in two different flights, however they are given two different prices for each flight, one being more expensive than the other. Almost without fail the judges gave the wine they thought was more expensive higher scores although they were the exact same wine. What if that was done to a whole country?
In the late 1800’s France’s vineyards were decimated by phylloxera (root louse), however the French wine brokers who sold millions of litres of French wine to Britain each year, didn’t stop shipping wine. The bought millions of litres of Rioja wine, bottled it in France and sold it to Britain as French wine. It was only a century later that the rouse was discovered.
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for a good 25-30 minutes, or run it through your handy-dandy Vinturi and enjoy. This is a great pairing for Manchego Cheese, Lasagne and a big bowl of meaty Bolognese aka. Meat Sauce.
Grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha
Store Section: Spain
Available: Metro Liquor Stores, Hillside Liquor Store
Buy Online: Metro Liquor Stores
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January 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.4 – Over Delivers
About the Wine: Reserva, in this case, means something and I like that. This wine has been barrel aged for at least 12 months and bottle aged for at least another 2 years given the vintage. The effect is to soften the rough edges that can be found in blends like this. The colour is deep ruby-red bordering on purple, while the nose is a cacophony red and purple fruits, spices, leather, herbs and purple flowers. The palate is complete as there are layers of flavours that unfold right from the attack through the mid-palate and the finish. The texture is firm but with soft edges; no hard angles. For the money this wine over delivers for the price. I didn’t give it a best buy because the wine lost its composure overnight and when I went back to it the next evening it wasn’t the same wine.
Value: There is a lot to this wine and it is well worth the $1 trade up from some of the $11-$14 wines on the market from California, Australia and Argentina. It is not for everyone so those looking for big generous gobs of fruit should look elsewhere. This wine is about finesse and nuances.
Added Value: All foodies take note of this wine. For you this is a Best Buy.
Service: Let this wine breathe for 20-30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi before enjoying. Have this with a big plate of paella, flat bread or small plates. It would be a mistake not to share this wine at the same table with others.
Grapes: Garnacha (Grenache), Tempranillo, Carinena
Store Section: Spain
Appellation: D.O. Carinena