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
Receive fun, useful, daily reviews of wines available in BC under $20 per bottle directly into your own personal e-mail box. Simply subscribe by clicking here, going to the main page and clicking the e-mail subscription button.
September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
This weekend my wife and I stole away to Tigh Na Mara for our anniversary weekend. Just the two of us for a couple of days of R&R. Of course that meant some great food and great wine. I approached the wine selection much like a casting director would a film. I cast specific wines for specific roles. If they performed their roles really well they would go on to test their versatility in other roles, if they did fine, they maybe be set up for a life as a character actor, and lastly some would simply be a pretty face that was able to pull off the role in a convincing way. Let’s face it I think most people purchase their wine kind of like this. You can’t separate the quality of the wine from the experience. Only cork dorks, like myself, have the opportunity to sit down at huge tasting tables to compare wines of similar ilk and pontificate as to their quality and value… in that experience.
There were 5 wines involved in our weekend (no we didn’t finish every bottle). Corte Giara 2004 Amarone (2nd label of the famed Alleghrini winery in Veneto, Italy), King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir (Oregon), Rosemount Estate Shiraz (Southeastern Australia), Moreau 2008 Chablis (Burgundy, France), & Cassini Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir.
Rosemount Shiraz was chosen as the wine for departure. You know the night before you go somewhere when you pack, eat a light meal, bath the kids and check twice that you have everything.
Moreau 2008 Chablis was chosen to be the ‘warm up band’ wine. The wine we drank when getting ready for or preparing dinner.
King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir was chosen off the list at the Cedars to go with both of our choices of meals (Wild Mushroom Bisque, followed by a mixed Seafood Grill for Ange and a full Rack of Lamb for me).
Corte Giara 2004 Amarone or the Cassini Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir would be chosen for the dinner we prepared in our room on Saturday night. As it turns out we went with the Corte Giara as we had a meal of various cheeses, some smoked salmon, olives, bread and bruschetta. That took the pressure right off the Cassini Cellars who will live to perform in another post.
With all the wines put into their roles, the only question left was did they meet the expectations of their roles.
To my palate the wine that exceeded my expectations for the role it was given was the Rosemount Shiraz. Granted there wasn’t a lot of pressure in its role, but that’s why I decided to try it there. Rosemount Shiraz has been around for a number of years and as such has been overlooked and almost forgotten by me. For the $16 I spent it was okay if it let me down.
It is a welled balanced fruit driven wine that showed some backbone and acidity that I don’t remember in the wines from years back. This wine was to be a comfort wine and it performed brilliantly. Conclusion: Rosemount Shiraz will move on and be placed in the ever turbulent and often cutthroat scenario of the Big Family Meal.
The next wine I really enjoyed and thought fit its role nicely was the King Estate 2008 Pinot Noir from Oregon. To recap this was not a pre-planned wine as I only saw the wine list at the Cedars once I sat down to dine. The wine had to work with the earthy savory flavours of wild mushroom bisque, but also pair with the lighter bodied, slightly sweeter context of Ange’s Mixed Seafood Grill and my heavier, more savoury meal of Rosemary crusted Rack of Lamb.
The silky texture and underpinnings of ‘fall leaves’ with bright cherry did the trick. It enhanced both the flavor and subtleties of the Lamb and caressed the gentle sweetness of the Seafood Grill. Conclusion: Met the role well, however I’m not sure this would be a sipping or comfort wine, as the price is roughly $40. I would order/buy this again when in a restaurant or at home preparing a finer meal. Character actor.
The Moreau Chablis was the set up wine or ‘warm up band’. This was the wine we used to whet our pallates before a meal. Bracing acidity, zesty lime flavors along with generous minerality insured a satisfactory on its grading, however I can find and enjoy as much, wines about $10 less for the same role. Conclusion: Pretty and decent in the role, but pretty expensive for what it could do.
The Corte Giara 2004 Amarone. I was so looking forward to this as I am lover of Amarone, Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso, and it is rare that I have the occasion to enjoy Amarone due to cost. The wine was completely set up to win. Simple foods with rich flavors and body, an easy going evening, some nice cool jazz playing in the background, and a great view off our deck. I saw myself curling up in the moment, alas the wine was okay but did not fit the bill. It tasted a little to angular. Although older, it’s Amarone for god sake and it should stand up and prefer some age. Instead it showed some plum, raisin and chocolate, but the finish was acidic and short. Conclusion: Did not meet the role and will not be moving on to other roles. I see informercials and voice overs for this wine.
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.