Picks of the Pros: Stacey Brennan, Hillside Liquor Store

December 29, 2015 § 1 Comment

Stacey has been the General Manager of the Hillside Liquor Store since it opened and has justifiably earned the reputation as being on the best buyers and palates in BC. What follows are her picks for New Year’s 2016.

Tsarine ChampagneTsarine Cuvée Premium Brut Champagne ~ $64.99 +tax

Tsarine Cuvée Premium Brut Champagne (beautiful bottle!) champagnes second oldest house,
It was made in honour of the Russian Empire in 1730, the swirl bottle represents the St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Decanter World Wine Awards Gold Medal Winner 2010. “Fine and delicate bubbles with notes of lime flowers and lemon balm, bitter orange and quince- fresh and crisp!”

Cipes BrutSummerhill Winery Cipes Brut ~ $23.49 +tax

Summerhill Winery Cipes Brut- Gold BC Wine Awards 2015 & sparkling wine of the year All Canadian Wine Awards 2014. “Aromas of Apple, lime, pear, almonds, and grapefruit. Crisp acidity, a soft creamy mousse and long finish.”

DP David LynchDom Perignon David Lynch Limited Edition 2003 Champagne ~ 199.99 +tax

Dom Perignon David Lynch Limited Edition 2003- “aromas start sweet, bright, mineral and floral- followed by candied fruit, plants, camphor leaf and dark hints of spices and licorice root. The palate is at first mild and delicate, then confidently mineral and persistent with a refined bitterness and saline tang” $199.99 + tax

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Picks of The Pros: Sparkling Wines

December 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

This week culminates with New Year’s 2016. If you listened to the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour this past week (here is a link to podcast; here is a link to the Show Notes) you would have seen my picks, but I thought it would be cool to see which Sparkling Wines and Champagnes the local pros would pick for themselves.

Over the week you will see posts from Ernest Sargent, Vintage Room Consultant at Everything Wine in Langford, Stacey Brennan, General Manager at Hillside Liquor Store, Pamela Sanderson General Manager at Cascadia Liquor Stores, and Jami Wood of Spinnaker’s James Bay.

I hope you enjoy each selection as I much as I did chatting with each about them.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

 

 

Episode 7: In The News & Brown Baggin’s It

December 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Episode 7 – Link to Podcast

Segment 1 ~ In the News

Strange bedfellows kissed and made up this week in the form the BCGEU & the BCPLSA (BC Public Liquor Stores Association). The two organizations announced that they believe that recreational marijuana retailing should be restricted to liquor stores, if and when it becomes legal to do so.

Segment 2 ~ Brown Baggin’ It

A fun Christmas Party idea is to do a Brown Bag event.

The host supplies brown lunch bags. As guests bring their entries they put their bottle in a bag and number it. Throughout the evening guests taste the wines and rate which is their favourites. At a specific time the wines are revealed and prices stated. Invariably there are many surprises.

I suggest that you limit the price to something like under $20. If you will have both red & white entries it is best to have two competitions, one for red and one for white.

Segment 3 ~ Recommended Wines for Brown Baggin’ It

Terre Prosecco ~ $18 and a brilliant palate cleanser and crowd pleaser. Only available in private stores. Top pick by Dork UnCorked’s Sparkling Wine Correspondent Stacey Brennan of the Hillside Liquor Store (across from Hillside Mall on North Dairy).

Surprises make this event fun so I often enter wines that very few people are aware off, but offer incredible value. Here are a few suggestions for both red and white.

Red

Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo (Spain) ~ $10 private stores only

Periquita (Portugal) ~ $10 both private and public stores

The Den Pinotage (South Africa) ~ $15 private stores only

White

Hester Creek Pinot Gris (BC) ~ $16 750ml $44 3L (750ml equivalent – $11)

Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) ~ $17 private stores only

Aveleda Vinho Verde (Portugal) ~ $15 private stores only

Segment 4 – Best Buy of the Week

This weeks Best Buy is the Francois Lurton Les Fumees Blanches. On sale at government stores in Dec. for $11.99 this is a killer white wine. Look for it in the French section.

Next Week – Grannies Shortbread

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.

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

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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Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Blanc

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.0  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0678.jpg

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Close your eyes for a moment and think of sitting on the patio. It’s a warm spring day with the scent of fresh flowers and rebirth in the air. The sun warms your face and your cares just slip away, if only for a moment. If you can put yourself there then you can get a good sense of this wine.

The nose features fresh pears, melon and delicious apple, while the palate is crisp, clean and refreshing. Flavours of Bartlett pear, honeydew melon and red, crisp apples grace the palate. The finish is short to medium and crisp.

Value: I would trade up from any Pinot Gris at $12-$13 for this wine. In addition I would save myself a buck or two over California Sauvignon Blanc priced at $16-$17.

Added Value: This wine strikes a chord for Foodies, as BC Pinot Blanc is in short supply but is almost perfect with spot prawns and crab. This is also a great wine for Weddings as it is fresh and very food versatile. I find it is more food versatile than many BC Pinot Gris’.

More To The Story: A number of years ago a study was done to determine which are the best grapes to grow in BC’s various appellations. Pinot Blanc was determined to be B.C.’s white grape as a quantity of high quality grapes can be grown. Sadly Pinot Blanc vines are being pulled out of vineyards and replaced with Pinot Gris. This is a response to the incredible and growing demand for Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, but it also means that the growers and wine makers that continue to work with Pinot Blanc are true artisans and are producing jewels that, I think, represent BC better than Pinot Gris.

Service: Chill down to about 8ºC. In case you don’t have a thermometer handy, if there is condensation when you take it out of the fridge, let it sit and warm up a few minutes before serving.

Grapes: Pinot Blanc

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot, Hillside Liquor Store, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, VQA Stores

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

Alcohol: 10.4 %

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