June 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Have you ever watched the move My Summer In Provence? Every scene that involves a meal has a bottle of Rosé. It makes perfect sense because Rosé can be incredibly refreshing and wonderfully versatile. In fact Rosé goes with a broader spectrum of foods than does white (I know I know I am generalizing). So when the temperature rises to above 20C and the grass starts to bleach out, I get a craving for rosé.
As I strolled through my local wine shop I saw a signficant increase in the number of rosés from Provence, which is classic. Prices ranged from $15-$25 which is what I expected, but then I say a lonely wine from Gascogne. Not your typical rosé hotbed and you know how I love to find great values where they are unexpected, so I grabbed a bottle of the Domaine de Pellehaut 2015 Rosé.
Price ~ $18.99
Score ~ 8.1 Over Delivers
If you follow me on Instagram (rod_phillips) you no doubt saw the photo I took of the wine. The colour is a deep rose, and the nose shows bright fruit of strawberry, raspberry. and currants, while the palate is fresh, alive and bursting with finesse and elegance. The finish shows all the fruit and is dry. It is not possible to not want more of this wine, as evidenced by my instagram photo. This is a highly shareable wine and my recommendation would be to have 6-10 bottles kicking around for when friends drop by as one will not be enough.
Grapes ~ I had to do some research for this one as the label doesn’t really tell you anything. Tannat, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Malbec
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Private Stores only
August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
I get a strong sense that consumers are starting to look for more finesse in their wines. They are starting to move away from the big boozy juice bombs that laden the liquor store shelves. Inevitably this leads the consumer to European wines for the most part and if that path leads to Italy it likely means tasting wines made from grapes that are not household names. This wine is just such an offering.
It hails from the Alto Adige region of Northern which is nestled in the Dolomite mountains, and is a blend of Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot. See what I mean. I have been tasting wines for 20+ years and I can only recall tasting Lagrein once or twice and I have never had the pleasure of tasting Teroldego.
I poured a glass right after pulling the cork. I loved the perfumed, berry, floral nose but the wine seemed really shy on the palate to the point where only its structure was at play. I put the wine aside for a couple of days and that did the trick. Clearly this is a wine that needs a lot of breathing (Vinturi, decanting, or simply leaving it open for a good amount of time) because it totally opened up and showed bright fresh berry and plum fruit flavours along with floral and spicy notes. The finish didn’t show any of the harsh tannins I noted on the first pass. I loved this wine… after a few days.
I would have scored this wine higher but the reality is that most people want to dive into their bottle and don’t purchase their wine to have two nights from now. So in terms of real life value its okay. In terms of cork dork value, this is awesome!
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Food: Steak, roasted meats, cheeses, rustic breads. Could work for Foodie foods and comfort foods.
August 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
Overall this is a very simple wine to enjoy. It is fruit forward, soft and supple and if you are looking for something easy to go with a simple comfort food meal this is a good choice.
Having said that I personally want a little complexity for my $15. I love a good Merlot and a good Primitivo, and together there is a ton of potential. Outside of the fruit and texture it didn’t do much. Certainly it is better than a number of $15 competitors but is not my first comfort food/pasta choice in this category.
Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores (I suspect this is an exclusive to BC Liquor Stores)
Foods: Pasta, Burgers, Mac N Cheese
May 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
May is not only glorious for weather here on the West Coast of BC, but May also brings the first Grand Tour of the Pro Cycling Season – Giro d’Italia. The third week of the Giro is the toughest week as it winds its way through the hills and mountains of Tuscany. In light of this fact, and that I am serious fan, I thought I would test run a wine that has long been on the market here in BC – Monte Antico.
The Monte Antico has great, rustic, old school packaging and is, now, conveniently, under screwcap, which I really like for wines under $20.
Tasting Notes: The colour is dark crimson and the nose shows dark cherry, leather, earth, and savoury spices. The palate shows similar flavours but has added the added complexity of plum and raspberry fruit flavour, hints of dried cocoa and pepper. The palate is of mid-weight and can stand up to most comfort foods from grilled chicken dishes to steak. The finish is round and juicy leaving you with the delicate marriage of cherry, plum and spice flavours.
Value: As much as I enjoyed this wine, I found that I wanted more out of it for the price. It certainly has more complexity than the big brand names out of California, and the flavours are well honed, but I would have rated it much higher if the price was a buck or so lower.
Added Value: This wine has added value as a pairing for Comfort Foods, as a BBQ wine and for those looking to venture into the wines of Italy/Tuscany for the first time.
Food Pairings: Comforts such as pizza, pasta, grilled chicken or steak, casseroles, firm cheeses, lasagne, Mac ‘N Cheese and cold cuts.
Service: Twist the cap and let breathe for 15 minutes or let it run through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Store Section: Italy
Grapes: Sangiovese, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon
Purchased From: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village.
Also Available At: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
The Dork UnCorked
PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
April 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.7 ~ Good Drop
You have heard the phrase ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’? That is how the wine growers and makers of Veneto region have been approaching wine for over two millennia. This wine is a reflection of that tradition but with a modern twist. This is a blend of Merlot & Corvina which until recently would have been unthinkable… even in the wine world, steeped in all its traditions, has rebels within it.
Tasting Notes: Nice plum, cherry and blueberry aromas and flavours. Touches of savoury herbs and licorice don the finish. The texture is very soft. Pillowy soft you might say. I liked it but like a pillow, it met my expectations and did its job well, but was rather unremarkable.
Value: The value here is for those looking to turn their brains off, and just sink into a quiet glass of wine.
Added Value: This wine would shine best for those looking to delve into the variations of Merlot. Not only will you get a great representation of Merlot grown in the Veneto, but also how Merlot works with Corvina. This is also a great wine for burgers and meats done with BBQ sauce.
Food Pairings: Burgers with all the fixins. Grilled or slow roasted meats. Medium but flavourful cheeses.
Service: Pull thercork and you are ready to go, however the wine does blossom well over time. Run it through the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times and you are good to go.
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: Veneto – Veneto is in North Eastern Italy and is home Bardolino, Valpolicella, Amarone and a lot of Prosecco. It is a great place to travel through as it features rolling hills, lakes, mountains and stretches to the sea and the city of Venice.
2013 vintage was fair to good as vintages go but the 2012 is the vintage you will find for most reds right now and it was a pretty damn good vintage. Best vintages in recent years have been 2010 and 2006. There are still some Amarones floating around from these vintages and they are truly outstanding.
Grapes: Corvina, Merlot
Available: Everything Wine
The Dork UnCorked
PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.8 – Good Drop
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.
Store Section: BC/VQA
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Tuscany Village
January 11, 2015 § 1 Comment
Score: 9.2 – Best Buy
Price: $12.79 ($6.40 750ml equivalent)
About the Wine: Bright ruby-red in the glass with aromas of sour cherry, plum and dried herbs. The palate is of mid-weight, round and shows juicy plum, cherry and savoury herb flavours. The finish is short to medium in length with ripe tannin and spicy fruits. Granted this is not a juice bomb and it shows remarkable finesse and complexity for a wine at this price. If you are looking for a juice bomb then this is not your wine, if, on the other hand you are looking for the best value for your red wine dollar, this could be it.
Value: This is not the best wine in the world, just one of the best values on the market. This wine really shines with Comfort Foods like BBQ burgers, pizza, pasta with tomato and meat sauce, or a hearty grilled cheese sandwich.
More To The Story: Giacondi was a wine that I snickered at as a buyer and wine whanker. It has been around for as long as I can remember and it has always been at the low-end of the price scale, which of course means that it can’t be good right? Not! Over the last year my income has dropped significantly and I could no longer afford the $15-$30 wines I was used to buying, but dinner without a glass of wine is silly. Food just tastes better with wine.
So my choice was to find a lower end wine that I could get behind. I tried a number and happily landed on Giacondi Sangiovese Merlot. The moral of the story is that there are great wines for every budget, I just had to get past my mental limitations to let real wine shine through.
Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe for 10 minutes or so so. I know, I know, let a $8 wine breathe?! Yes this wine is remarkably complex and has good structure, letting it breathe will open it up and let the fruit aromas and flavours fully express themselves. Have this will simple everyday Comfort Foods. Casseroles, leftovers, pizza, burgers, pasta, grilled cheese, that sort of thing.
Grapes: Sangiovese, Merlot
Store Section: Italy
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Beverly Corner Liquor Store, Everything Wine
Alcohol: 12.5 %
January 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.2 – Over Delivers
About the Wine: This wine is a dark ruby purple in the glass. The nose shows fruit aromas bright red berry and ripe Italian plum. The nose also shows white and black pepper, leather, savoury herbs and just the slightest hint of smoked meat. The palate is velvety, round and delivers bold fruit flavours with subtle herbs and spice. The finish is of medium length, soft tannin and dried figs.
Value: This wine, for those that know it, has become one of the most popular Spanish wines to hit the BC market in the last few years. For those looking for a little more finesse and style in their wines, a trade up of $1 to $2 from $10 Argentine Malbec or Barefoot Shiraz is well worth it and highly recommended.
Added Value: For those serving Chicken or Fish at their upcoming wedding this is a great choice for a red wine. A date night that features a plates of cheeses, charcuterie, and prawns, here is your wine… especially if chocolate is to follow. This wine shines when served with comfort foods. A Saturday afternoon treat for me is a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of Cal Y Canto.
More To The Story: You have heard of the concept of terroir? Basically it states that a wine’s character, soul, aroma and flavour are a function of the soil and climate of the vineyard it comes from. In the case of Cal Y Canto I would add another component; the people.
Some of the best wines that I tasted during my travels through Spain as a buyer were at the local wine co-op for a village or collection of villages. I found many wines that had an uncommon ‘truth’ to them. It seems that the simple act of contributing the fruit of one’s labour to be a part of a community wine, gives the community wine an added element. Cal Y Canto comes from just such a place in the middle of Spain’s largest wine growing region- La Mancha.
Service: Twist of the cap and let breathe for about 10 minutes or run it through
Grapes: Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot
Store Section: Spain
Appellation: Castilla La Mancha
Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Beverly Corners Liquor Store
August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
This wine has just been released to the market in test tube full amounts… unless you are a high end restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Then.. then you can have as much as you want. Why? that is a discussion for another time.
McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage is the latest in a long line of projects started, elevated and polished by one Harry McWatters. Harry is truly one of the pioneers of the BC wine industry and was among the first to pull off producing commerical wine in BC. He is also a founding member of VQA in Canada and only recently completed some, what I suspect were hard, years at Vincor as part of the deal that saw Vincor purchase Sumac Ridge Winery from Harry. Harry is also responsible for making a wine that was a watershed wine in so many ways to the BC wine industry. Harry grew and vinted Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer which was the wine that brought my wife and I together for a candle light nite (she was my soon to be girlfriend at the time). Regardless of that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz added credibility to the BC Wine industry that was desperate for some commercial wins. Frankly, I believe that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz established a style that became a standard to either emulate or run away from in BC. I can remember a conversation with Sandra Oldfield back in 1995 where she stated that she wanted her Gewurz to stand apart from Harry’s whereas so many wanted to copy.
Another thing you need to know about Harry. Never call a Meritage a Meritah-ge. He will jump down your throat and stomp on your innards. For Harry Meritage is pronounced Merry- tige. He believes in this so much that he either founded or was a very vocal member in an organization of Meritage maker’s (whose real name escapes me right now) that spans across North America.
So the McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage…
Here is the tech shit: Harvested in 2007 from blah blah blah blah vineyards. I have thrown that in there because it seems that every wine is grown in especially selected vineyards and is cared for as if gold from the vineyard to the winery, to the bottle to your table. To use a line I love from old black and white movies – that line is a bromide for the masses. What is really of any importance is why he chose the final blend to be 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and decided to leave in barrel and bottle for as long as he did before he released it. That is what I want to read and hear as each of those elements made up the wine that I tasted.
I first tasted the wine on August 21. I opened it at about 6pm and had a glass with dinner at about 6:30. I have to say that it didn’t wow me at that point. Don’t get me wrong the wine was technically sound and enjoyable but it didn’t have that little bit of Gretzky in it to put it over a lot of others at the same price point. If I had to score it at that time I would have given in a 6.5/$1 on my bang for the buck scale. Nice fruit flavours and aromas of red and black berries, some jammy elements, some good spicy undertones and enough grip to stand up to a bold meal, but not too much to pucker your face in. On the finish there was the tiniest of noises as if I was Horton and I was hearing a Who for the first time. The Who was saying in a shrinking voice “cocoa” “fresh ground coffee”.
Since then it has been sitting on my countertop with a vaccu-pump seal. That is 9 days it should have been well on its way to Balsamic by now but man o man was I surprised. It was still quite voluptuous, full of fruit and not loss of sex at all. Those tiny voices were now big Gregory Peck type tones from To Kill Mocking Bird. The finish was delightful and begging me to get up for another glass. Now, after 9 days I would score it an easy 8.5/$1. Any wine that has that lasting power deserves room in my pocketbook and miserable excuse for a cellar.
Traditional Food Pairing: Beef Tenderloin hot of the grill with the simplest of seasoning. Roast Beef. Stilton Cheese on a Triscuit.
Junk Food Pairing: Jack’s Links Regular Beef Jerky or you can go with the Peppered. If Popcorn is on the agenda make sure that it is Orville’s Extra Butter flavour. Cheez Whiz is pretty decent with this to.
Availability: Pretty limited which is the drawback. You will be able to find it in key restaurants in Vancouver, some private retail in Victoria (in about a week) and throughout the Okanagan.