November 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
What makes some people incredible accountants, lawyers, plumbers and entertainers? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that everyone who is fantastic at their jobs brings a special quality. Let’s face it every task can be broken down and learned, but some people just inject a little bit of
inspiration and magic in each step. In the wine world one of the great entertainers was Wolf Blass.
If could be argued Wolf Blass is introduced the beauties and simplicity of wine to more people than anyone else. First he crafted very easy to enjoy wine. Then he made himself available to anyone who wanted to learn more. Finally he tirelessly entertained consumers around the world and made wine approachable to everyone.
When I saw this wine I read the back label and found that it is an homage to Wolf Blass himself and so I jumped at the opportunity to try it.
Hopefully it entertains the palate as much as he entertained the world.
Notes: The wine pours into the glass a dark purple with cherry red hues. The nose betrays the juicy, fruit forward, hedonistic wine this turned out to be. Aromas of juicy red and black berries, pastry and hints of smoky
pepper join a rich, textured palate to make a very enjoyable glass.
I would highly suggest this wine for a romantic comedy movie night or when you have friends over for light and enjoyable evening. It speaks well to fun loving nature of Wolf himself.
Score: 7.5/10 ~ Over Delivers
It pairs really well with mild cheeses, hot dogs, grilled chicken and
mashed potatoes, and plenty of comfort foods.
If you have the opportunity to try this wine, please let me know your thoughts.
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
May 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
I picked up this wine to indirectly honour the efforts put in by the sale rep here on Vancouver Island. As a former sales rep I can appreciate how much planning and elbow grease it takes to get a new wine to the market in so many stores in such good position.
Tasting Notes: The colour is purple with crimson hues, and nose is brimming with ripe purple and red fruits. There is a whole lot of youth in this wine with just a little hint of spice on the finish. This is very much a sipping wine and less a food wine.
Value: It’s pretty decent value and definitely a good drop however I thought is a little to one dimensional to suggest that it over delivered or was a best buy.
Added Value: This has more value when applied to occasions that require a crowd pleaser wine or for snuggling up on the couch and watching a movie.
Food Pairings: As for food, this worked well with simpler medium weight foods such as veggie or Margarita pizza, creamy mild cheeses, and simple grilled chicken.
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: France
Appellation: Rhone Valley – Did you know that the Rhone Valley lies directly south of another famous French wine region – Burgundy. The story goes the Romans popularized the area as a wine growing region and that Emperor Probus is who introduced Syrah to the valley.
Syrah’s native home is a small town in Northern Iran called Shiraz. Probus loved the wines made from this grape and shipped vines from Iran to Gaul. It is said that he intended on planting these vines further north than the Rhone Valley, but the ship carrying the vines ran aground in the Rhone Valley and that is where the vines were planted. A happy accident for all of us.
Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre
Purchased From: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village.
Also Available At: BC Liquor Stores, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Cork & Barrel
The Dork UnCorked
PS – if you do try this wine, please let me know what you think by submitting a comment.
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.
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
Available Cascadia Colwood & Uptown.
Link to the original review: Buon Tempo 2010 Rosso di Montalcino
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
Available at Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Spinnaker’s James Bay.
Link to original review: Masia F Vino Tinto
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
Available in almost all private stores including Cascadia, Metro, Everything Wine, Hillside Liquor Store
Link to original review: Terra Andina Carmenere-Syrah
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
Available in Cascadia, Metro Liquor, Hillside Liquor Store, Everything Wine.
Link to the original review: Casa Viva 2012 Pinot Noir
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
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!
March 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.7 – Good Drop
I love Chardonnay! There I said it. It’s not cool to like Chardonnay, but I do. I love the curvy, sultry, seductive nature of a well balanced oaked Chardonnay. It is almost as if such a Chardonnay is one of temptations that those on a pulpit may warn you of. This wine was once one of those, however retains a good amount of its previous allure. I really liked this wine but it has seen better days.
Tasting Notes: The colour is a bright amber yellow. The nose shows caramel, ripe ripe delicious apple, and just a touch of hazelnuts (the hallmark of an older wine). The palate has a welcome creamy texture with a delightful caramel apple flavour. On the finish there is a touch of hazelnut to go with the apple flavour.
Value: This wine is for one looking to taste how older whites develop without spending $25/bottle. It also provides a great opportunity to taste the region that popularized Chardonnay.
Added Value: This wine has added value for those looking to explore the flavours of older Chardonnays; Exploration Wine. This is also a damn fine wine for movie night with lots of hot buttered popcorn.
Food Pairings: This wine is a great pairing for a Spinnach salad with nuts and feta, otherwise it is a great wine for hot buttered popcorn.
Service: Serve this wine chilled but not cold. If it comes out of the fridge with condensation, let it warm up a bit before serving.
Store Section: France
Appellation: Macon-Villages – Macon-Villages is in the South of the region of France called Burgundy… you may have heard of it. You may have also heard of French oak as being the oak of choice for many winemakers and, certainly, Chardonnay. The combination of Macon-Villages with its relatively affordable pricing (in comparison to Mersault or Pouilly Fuse), aged in French oak is the style that inspired the pioneers of California winemaking and lead to the Judgement of Paris that truly launched the California wine industry.
Available: Liquor Depot ‘Preferred Vintages’ (wines exclusive to Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn stores)
February 17, 2015 § 1 Comment
What happens when you come across a wine that you really enjoy but can’t seem to find anywhere. This is such a wine. It was given to me by someone who knows I have a passion for weeding through the thousands of skus on the under $20 market, to find remarkable wines for the money. They thought that this wine would get a pretty good rating and, yes it will. The quality of the wine is not the problem. The value for money is not the problem. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a store that carries it. If you are reading this, have a favourite local store, please ask them to bring the Gandia 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon in, then let me know and I will go down and buy some.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Deep crimson in colour with very complex aromas for the price. Red berries, cassis, dark chocolate, savoury spices, and just a kiss of licorice root. The palate is of mid-weight and the texture is round and velvety. The flavours echoed the nose yet the dark chocolate morphed into more of a mocha sensation. This finish shows polish and is of medium length. The tannins are soft and sweet which makes this an awesome sipping Cab.
Tasting Notes with Food: Typically Cabernet Sauvignon screams out steak or roasted red meat. This wine shows a little more softness and restraint so it is a better match for Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chop or Grilled chicken or Turkey. I had this with chicken thighs roasted in the oven with simple spices of salt and pepper and it worked beautifully. Anything heavier and it might have gotten lost.
Value: Again this is not your run of the mill competitor for a big California or Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. It represents great value for the money and I think you will really enjoy it, however of you are a lover of the Cabernets mentioned above this is likely an Exploration purchase. If on the other hand, you typically drink red blends of Southern France or Central Italy, this would be a great trade… at least to check it out.
Added Value: This wine shows added value for a Date Night, Movie Night and even for the Foodies.
More To The Story: Wine from this area of Spain (Utiel-Requena) has been enjoyed since the 7th century BC and has escaped Moorish prohibition and the scourge of phyloxxera which devastated most of the rest of Europe in the decades following 1868. Nestled just inland from Valencia Spain this D.O. has a broad range of grapes grown and shares a very similar climate to that of eastern Washington State and parts of northern California (long, dry hot summers, cold winters), which accounts for the finesse of the wine.
Score: 8.6 – Over Delivers (could have scored higher, however I’m estimating the price. If the retail price turns out to be $16.99 it would have gotten a higher score. If $15.99 then a Best Buy.)
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a couple of times.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Store Section: Spain
Available: In very limited distribution. Check with smaller specialty private stores.
February 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are very few proven facts about wine. One of the only things about wine that we know for sure is that one size does not fit all. Unlike the soft drink, beer and electronics industry, one brand does not dominate the market and to me that is apart of the eloquence and seductiveness about wine. Every wine has a story. Some are liked by many, and some are liked by a few, but there is a home in the heart of someone for every wine. This wine for me is no exception. It didn’t wow me, but I can see how it would be ‘crave-worthy’ to many. There are lots of attractive elements and that is why this was a difficult wine to review for me. I get the distinct impression that in a couple of years the oak and fruit components will have found peace and work together. At present they seem a little at odds. I came down to the conclusion that to a specific segment of the wine drinking population this wine would be all they ever wanted from a $15 and more wine. For me it was a better than the average Good Drop, but lacked complete balance to get an Over Delivers rating, hence I rated this at the highest end of the Good Drop range. I’m glad to have had the experience.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Dark red to purple in colour (classic Tempranillo colour). The nose is dominated by oak but lurking in the shadows is some delightfully ripe red and black fruits and black pepper spice. On the palate you will immediately notice some structure and power (tannin), while the fruit flavours come out a bit more. There is still a good dose of oak that seems to be contesting the fruit for center stage. The finish is of medium length and you will get a big kiss of oak at the end.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a simple chicken dish that featured lots of savoury flavours and was of medium weight. The wine definitely stood up to the challenge, however near the end of the meal the oak really started to express itself.
Value: For those that usually buy Apothic or other lavishly oaked wines this is a definite winner. It provides excellent value for the price if you are willing to explore a bit.
Added Value: This wine would shine as a BBQ wine as long as the BBQ featured grilled red meats. I would also suggest this wine would be awesome with some hot buttered popcorn on Movie Night.
More To The Story: Oak ageing was an unquestioned part of the wine business until the mid-90’s when there was a huge backlash to the amount of oak influence on a wine. The backlash was so significant that hundreds of wines started appearing boasting the fact that there was no oak used in the making of the wine. Brands like Naked Grape too hold of the market. The effect was so comprehensive that it became very difficult to find wines that were proud of their oak ageing. Gone were the ‘buttersticks’ of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Thank goodness the pendulum is starting to swing back because oak, when used well, can add so much to a wine. Flavours like caramel, cinnamon, and butter are a function of oak and not of the grape. Oak can also have a positive effect on the texture of a wine. It can soften sharp edges, it can add complexity, and when used with malolactic fermentation, it can give a wine a pronounced creamy texture and finish. In the late 80’s and early 90’s this wine would be at the top of the list, 10 years ago it would have been completely banned, now it is apart of a welcome swing of the wine pendulum.
Score: 7.4 – Good Drop
Service: Pull the cork and let it breathe for at least 30 minutes to let the fruit aromas and flavours express themselves. If you have a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
, run it through that a few times and you are good to go.
Store Section: Spain
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
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