Vina Maipo Carmenere – Cabernet Sauvignon

January 21, 2015 § 1 Comment

Score: 8.7 – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0712.png

Price: $10.99

About the Wine: This wine is not available in BC Liquor Stores so check out your favourite private store. Hailing from Chile, this wine is priced to compete with ‘everyday’ wines like Copper Moon etc.

Tasting Notes Sipping: This wine, for the price, is a very good sipper. It is well balanced, offers good fruit, some spice and the tannins are soft and supple making the wine smooth. Aromas of crushed plum and berry are highlighted with black pepper and violets, while the palate shows similar flavours with the addition of a hint of mocha.

Tasting Notes With Food: The complexity of this wine avails itself to simple foods like pizza, tomato based pasta dishes, or straight up meat and potatoes. I had this with a meat lovers pizza and it worked great. The berry fruit flavours and spice tones become more pronounced and the structure was up to the task of refreshing my palate.

Value: Definitely worth the trade up in price from Naked Grape, Copper Moon et al. I would also look at saving myself a few bucks on the likes of entry level BC or California straight Cabs or Merlots.

Added Value: This wine shines as an everyday wine and thus is great when you are serving a big group (Crowd Pleaser, Wedding Wine), or when you are having Comfort Foods.

More To The Story: I have spent the last number of years tasting thousands of wines each year and I have come a ‘generalization’. The best red wine values that are priced under $12 are most often blends. There is an assumption that a single varietal ‘New World’ wine is worth more than a blend, and once you are above $15/bottle that seems to be true. However for red wines under $15 blends are the way to go, and here is why.

Each varietal has its strengths. Cabernet Sauvignon is known for bringing structure and boldness to a wine, Cabernet Franc aromatics. Merlot and Carmenere are often used for their fruit and texture. So where you are making a wine for the ‘value’ market you are usually using grapes that are not the best and thus have some glaring weaknesses. Blending complimentary grapes makes a better wine.

Service: Twist off the cap and let if flow.

Grapes: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Section: Chile

Appellation: Central Valley

Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Express

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

Alcohol: 13.1%

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Barefoot Shiraz

January 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 5.1 – Dead Average2015/01/img_0696.jpg

Price: $9.99 On-sale January 2015 $8.49 ($19.99 1.5L)

About the Wine: Price must be the only reason why this wine has the popularity that is has; that and good merchandising. The wine tastes more manufactured than grown and is one-dimensional at best.

The nose shows over ripe black fruits with some vanilla. The palate is a simple juice bomb that has been infused with oak chips to give it a vanilla component. The finish is short and sweet.

Value: The best value is in selecting other wines that offer better value for your money… even at $8.49. Go with Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah, La Vuelta Malbec or Lindeman’s Cawarra Shiraz-Cabernet all at $9.99.

More To The Story: Prior to the Barefoot brand being sold to E & J Gallo, Barefoot was a bit of a pioneer. It was the first virtual winery that showed success. A virtual winery doesn’t own a winery or vineyards. They purchase grapes from growers and contract wineries with excess capacity to make the wine. All in all its a pretty good business model as it fills a need in the market while supplying affordable wines.

Service: Twist off the cap and let if flow.

Grapes: Shiraz

Store Section: California

Appellation: California

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Liquor Express, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Liquor Depot (on-sale $7.99), Beverly Corners.

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Liquor Depot

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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Copper Moon Pinot Grigio

January 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 5.0 – Dead Average2015/01/img_0679.jpg

Price: $9.69

About the Wine: Take a can of fruit cocktail out of the cupboard, add a 1/2 ounce of vodka and you will have duplicated this wine. The reason that I gave this a Dead Average rating is simply because of its popularity. It is a hugely popular wine and I’m a firm believer that the ultimate value of a wine is on the palate of the beholder.

Value: The value here is that there are others out there that give you better value for your money. For $1 more you can get some really good Pinot Grigios, a good example  is the Dunavar Pinot Grigio from Hungary. If you only want to spend $10 then get the Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), Robertson Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), or Hardy’s Chardonnay (Australia). It’s a buck more but offers more fresh fruit, character and flavour but the Hardy’s Riesling-Gewurztraminer, is a much better spend.

More To The Story: Clearly not one of my favourites or something that I would suggest people spend their money on. Part of the reason for this is that I don’t believe in a wine like this. This is a blend of Pinot Grigio juice that is imported in bulk bladders from around the world, poured into bottles or boxes with a ‘Canadian’ label and called Canadian. To give the consumer the perception that this is a Canadian wine is false. A standard should be created where a minimum percentage of the wine must be from Canadian grapes in order for a wine to be called Canadian or Cellared in Canada.

Service: Chill it down… a lot

Grapes: Pinot Grigio

Store Section: Cellared In Canada

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Liquor Express, Most Private Liquor Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.0 %

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Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah

January 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

Score: 9.1 – Best Buy /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0660.png
Price: $9.99-$10.99

About the Wine: Juicy, seductive, spicy, layered sub $15 bliss. The nose shows generous lush dark plum, blackberry and black pepper, while the palate is lush. The complexity of this wine suggests $15/bottle easily. It does the job from start to finish. Speaking of the finish, it is very long for an $11 wine, and leaves you with a spicy, juicy kiss goodbye.

I recall a time about 10 years ago when I was an importer and we carried this winery and wine. The price then was $14.99 and we had trouble keeping it in stock. At $10.99/$11.99 this is a steal. Best Buy indeed.

Value: Put down the Fincas Los Primos or Copper Moon Malbec and trade up to this wine. In fact I would save myself a buck or two and choose this wine over Beringer Stone Cellars Cab Sauv or the Vina Maipo Carmenere.

Added Value: Those who would serve this as a wedding wine or having a BBQ will find extra value in this wine.

Service: Twist off the cap, wait 5-10 minutes and enjoy.

Grapes: Carmenere, Syrah

Store Section: Chile

Appellation: Central Valley

Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Legacy Liquor Store,Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Express, Liquor Depot

Buy Online/Delivered To Your Door: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay: Updated

January 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 9.1 – Best Buy/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4dc/16438419/files/2015/01/img_0658.jpg
Price: $11.99 ($22.99 for the 1.5L Bottle)

About the Wine: There are few better Chardonnay’s under $15 in B.C. This wine shows balance through and through. It offer generous fruit, bright freshness, a creamy texture, layers of spice and hints of vanilla. It provides a complete taste experience from start to finish on the palate.

It’s a big brand, and one doesn’t normally associate an artisan approach to wines from a global giant, but this is the wine that built the Lindeman’s brand and they seem to understand that it is the pillar of the brands growth and stability. I have tasted, bought and enjoyed this wine for each of the last 8 vintages and it has yet to disappoint.

For those fearful of too much oak in Chardonnay, particularly Australian Chardonnay, there is nothing to fear here. The key to this wine is balance and enjoyment. Best Buy for sure!

Value: It would be a mistake not to trade up in price to this wine from the likes of Barefoot, Naked Grape, & Copper Moon and save yourself a buck by trading down in price from Yellow Tail or Woodbridge Chardonnay.

Added Value: There is added value in serving this wine if you are doing any of the following: getting married, having a group of people over or going to a party, snuggling up on the couch for movie night, or enjoying a girls night out.

Part of the Story: I remember when Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay first gained popularity in B.C. It was a part of the first wave of Australian wine back in the early 90’s and Wyndham’s Bin 222 Chard was king. B.C. has long been known to pay the lowest prices to suppliers. Bin 222 was growing by leaps and bounds with every passing year and Wyndham Estate found themselves without enough wine to match global demand. Instead of raising their prices they simply cut supply to markets that paid the lowest prices… first on the list, B.C.

Without the market leader present on the shelves consumers were looking for an alternative and Lindeman’s Bin 65 became that alternative. It was the number 1 selling Australian white wine right up until Yellow Tail stormed the beaches in the early 2000’s. From what I understand from the agent, Lindemans Bin 65 is once again the most popular Australian white wine.

The price for Lindemans Bin 65 in 1995, and this adds to why this gets a Best Buy rating, $9.99. The price today $11.99. An increase of only $2 over 20 years is amazing. An increase of only $2 over 20 years while maintaining quality is priceless.

Service: Chill to about 8C. In the event that you don’t have a thermometer handy, if there is condensation on the bottle when you take it out of the fridge, just wait a few minutes for it to warm up a bit and serve. For food pairings this has always been a favourite of mine with grilled chicken or roasted pork tenderloin, but best of all is pairing this with a big bowl of hot buttered popcorn.

Grapes: Chardonnay

Store Section: Australia

Appellation: South East Australia

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Everything Wine, Liquor Express, Metro Liquor, Liquor Depot

Buy Online/Delivered To Your Door: Everything Wine,  Metro Liquor, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 13%

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