September 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.2 ~ Good Drop
If an all powerful being were standing in front of me and saying that they will take away all of my problems and those of my family, but I had could only drink the wines of one region for the rest of my life, it would be Chianti (if any of you reading this are all powerful, give me a ring, let’s talk!).
This wine needs to some time to show its true nature. I tasted this over 3 days and left it open to the air all three days. The first day the nose was muted and the palate fine, and fresh, but it didn’t so much other than some youthful vigour (after all just over 1 year ago this wine was grapes on a vine). Day 2 showed much more. Finesse, refined textures and some good cherry flavours. By Day 3 it was heavenly – wonderfully perfumed, delicious, plum nectar and cherry, velvety finish with some spice and floral characters, depth, depth, depth.
If what I tasted on Day 3 was what I tasted on Day 1 then this would easily have been a Best Buy wine. It’s a good drop, made better by patience. If you have the patience to let it breathe then this is a great buy, if you are like most people and want it to perform in the glass straight away, then there are others I would recommend.
Purchase At: Cascadia Uptown
Food: Great with Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, smoked cheeses.
August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Full disclosure, Chianti and Chianti Classico is a true love of mine. I’m not sure how or when, but the supple texture, rich seductive body, cherry flavours, floral elements along with savoury spices are a baseline for me. I can easily sink into a glass of Chianti Classico like a great book.
$20+ for Chianti Classico is t be expected and thus I’m looking for it to deliver more than a simple Chianti or Sangiovese at $15. When I say more I don’t mean more density or stronger flavours, rather I’m looking for greater complexity of flavours and structure. I’m looking for find more flavours and flavours that work together. I’m looking for a more supple and seductive bottle that what I am likely to find in a $15 wine. Sadly I didn’t find that here. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to like and love in this wine, but it is not that dissimilar to the flavours and texture found in regular Chiantis such as Gabbiano, Cecchi and Frescobaldi.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Foods: Pastas, Pizza, roasted chicken or pork, hard cheeses, comfort foods and foodie foods.
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 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!
February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
From the ranks of the hard to find beauties comes the Buon Tempo Rosso di Montalcino. I dare say that this blog won’t be reviewing too many Rosso di Montalcino’s as most of them start around the $30. In fact this is the first in my 25 years in the game here in BC that is priced under $20 and it is a true treat.
About a year ago you would have been able to find this in many of Vancouver’s and Victoria’s finer wine shops, and it was gobbled up very quickly. Fortunately I stumbled upon a few bottles that were gracing the shelves of the Cascadia Colwood store (I think there was a total of 13 bottles left after my purchase). As I bid farewell to the very pleasant cashier my mouth began to water with anticipation. Would it be as awesome as I remembered it? Afterall it was a child of the incredible 2010 vintage. How could I go wrong?
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a deep rusty crimson and the nose is wonderfully expressive. Aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, savoury spices like sage and a beautiful perfume of purple flowers such as violets. The palate is rich, vivacious and luxurious showing why the wines of Montalcino are in such hot demand. Flavours of cherry, plum and spice unfold as if blossoming on the palate. The finish is long, velvety and rich in flavour and spice.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this with grilled chicken thighs that were spiced with Greek Spice and the pairing was a delight mostly because the wine was so good. Wines like this have such finesse and grace that they rarely over power a meal and are almost never overshadowed by the dish. The fruit and spice flavours came alive and my palate was kept fresh and wanting of the next bite.
Value: Given the rare nature of this wine I would highly recommend making this your choice this week (last week of Feb. 2015). I would forestall all others and enjoy this wine.
Added Value: This wine shows added value as a Foodie Wine, a great choice for a Date Night and is awesome for Comfort Foods. For those not familiar with the wines of Montalcino but have always wanted to try here is your chance to Explore this great region.
Score: 9.4 – Best Buy
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for at least 45 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times.
Store Section: Italy
Available: Cascadia Liquor Stores (Colwood for sure, call the others to see if they have stock).
January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.9 – Over Delivers
If you are a regular reader you will know that great values are often found in the shadows of ‘celebrity’ regions. This wine is no exception. The Montecucco DOC of the Maremma appellation in South of Tuscany. It is central Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino) that gets most of the attention, however for those in the know, and watch vintages carefully, Montecucco is a place where you can find some amazing values. By the way this wine also certified organic.
Tasting Notes Sipping: You will immediately notice the colour of this wine; it is dark, dark ruby red which gives you a clue to the depth of this wine. The nose shows dark ripe cherry and berry, with some dried herbs and lavender highlights. The palate is deep and complex. Layers of flavours including the above and hints of earthy leather, unfold across the mid-palate right through the dark fruit and slightly hot finish. There is definitely a little grip or tannin on this wine, but the tannins are in check, but do ask for food.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine Roasted Rosemary Chicken, which, like it sounds is a whole roasted chicken stuffed with rosemary, lemons, carrots and onions. One of my favourite dishes and really easy to do. The wine was a perfect match for this dish, right from the aromas through the flavours. The weight of wine kept the palate fresh and alive, while the rosemary and citrus made the fruit flavours pop. The slightly hot finish vanished and was replaced with a long, complex finish that included dark berry, herbs and spices and just a hint of purple flowers like lavender and violets.
Value: If you are a fan of Chianti Classico or Sangiovese based wines in general, this is a keeper. I have chosen this over straight up Chianti at $16/$17 many times. I have even put down some Chianti Classico at $20 for this wine as it is in limited supply and really, really enjoyable. The depth and character of this wine is a good starting point for anyone looking to dip their toe into the pool of European wines. It’s just a small step from $13-$17 California or Aussie wines into this wine and the enjoyment is truly there.
Added Value: This wine really shines when the Foodies come over and it is a great option for Sunday dinner kinds of Comfort Foods like Roasted Chicken, Roast Beef, or Roast Pork.
More To The Story: 2009 through central and northern Italy, like that in the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France was one of the best vintages on record. The result is that there was a ton of top quality wine on the market meaning that many wineries in relatively unknown regions were having a tough time selling their stocks. The Rosso Del Gello is a one time buy here in BC. Once it is gone there is no more, and certainly not at this price. The winery was staring the bumper 2010 vintage in the face and needed to move through the last of the 2009. Fortunately the enterprising importer was Johnny on the Spot and grabbed whatever he could. In fact the 2009 sold out in the UK at £11-£13.
Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for a good 30 minutes. Alternatively run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times and enjoy.
Grapes: Sangiovese Grosso Store Section: Italy Appellation: Maremma
Available: Everything Wine Buy Online: Everything Wine
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January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.5 – Good Drop
Proof that pricing is not always a great indicator of value. Fluctuations in currency values can have a huge impact on the price of a wine. Take this wine for instance. Note the variation in price. Over the last number of months the price of this wine has climbed due to the increasing value of the Euro against the Canadian Dollar. I really like this wine as it is a step back in history to a time when wine was made to go with food, be refreshing and, in Italy, was consumed more often than water. For those looking for a wine experience this wine Over Delivers. For those looking for big, powerful, fruit driven wine, look elsewhere.
I have found this wine at $14.99 and for that price, under the scenario noted above, this wine Over Delivers… at $16.99 it’s a Good Drop.
Tasting Notes Sipping: The nose shows bright red cherry, some red berries and dried herbs (classic old school Chianti), while the palate has a light-medium body, is fresh and bright flavours of sour cherries and purple flowers. The finish is relatively short and shows some grip.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had the good fortune of having this with the Margherita Pizza from Pizza Prima Strada and it was tremendous! The fruit flavours came to the front and the freshness of the wine brought the heavenly flavours of the fresh basil and subtle creaminess of the Buffala Mozzarella. With simple foods this wine over delivers.
Value: This wine has great value and is worth the money as long as you are looking for a wine experience that takes you back in time. Setting out a red & white checkered tablecloth, have some mandolin music playing in the background and share a simple pasta or pizza and you have it nailed. If you are having the group over for a get together, stick with your usual Crowd Pleaser choice.
Added Value: As I said above this wine shows added value for Date Night, Comfort Foods or for the Foodies.
More To The Story: What do you think of the package? Classic hey? Did you know that for many years most wine was packaged like this. The basket allowed the rounded bottom bottle to stand on the table making it easier to serve. That all changed when along came a glass blower who figured out that if you push in the bottom you can have a bottle that will stand on its own.
Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi. You will notice how much more expressive the aromas are and the tannin, or grip, won’t be as pronounced on the palate.
Grapes: Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo
Store Section: Italy
Appellation: Chianti DOCG
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village
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