December 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
As we are coming to the end of 2015 I took a few moments to look back at my posts. It dawned on me that I haven’t done much on white wines at all. With this happy justification in my pocket I trundled off to the liquor store.
So where to start looking for white wine? I walked down the BC aisle and saw lots of options. Then it dawned on me that the best place to find something white lurking in shadows of stardom was in the New Zealand category.
Sauvignon Blanc makes up the vast majority of sales of New Zealand wine here in BC. Of Sauvignon Blanc sales the overwhelming leaders are Kim Crawford and Oyster Bay. Both great wines, but I kind of look at them as the baseline of quality and price by which competitors should be gauged. To that end I looked through a number of offerings, and narrowed my choices down to a couple that I know are small producers not owned by big conglomerates. I selected the Sileni Estate 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Price ~ $15.99
Score ~ 8.6/10 Over Delivers
The nose is brimming with vibrant gooseberry and grass. I say vibrant as if, it were possible, the aromas were vibrating with energy, just waiting to get out of the glass.
The palate is crisp and alive leaving your mouth feeling refreshed and great. I’m sure that I smiled shortly after my first taste.
Given that both Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford are normally a couple of bucks more per bottle, this wine way over delivered.
Grapes ~ 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section ~ New Zealand
Availability ~ Both private and government stores.
Food Pairing ~ White fish, fresh oysters, pasta with creamy sauces, fish tacos.
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the Dork UnCorked.
December 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Episode 7 – Link to Podcast
Segment 1 ~ In the News
Strange bedfellows kissed and made up this week in the form the BCGEU & the BCPLSA (BC Public Liquor Stores Association). The two organizations announced that they believe that recreational marijuana retailing should be restricted to liquor stores, if and when it becomes legal to do so.
Segment 2 ~ Brown Baggin’ It
A fun Christmas Party idea is to do a Brown Bag event.
The host supplies brown lunch bags. As guests bring their entries they put their bottle in a bag and number it. Throughout the evening guests taste the wines and rate which is their favourites. At a specific time the wines are revealed and prices stated. Invariably there are many surprises.
I suggest that you limit the price to something like under $20. If you will have both red & white entries it is best to have two competitions, one for red and one for white.
Segment 3 ~ Recommended Wines for Brown Baggin’ It
Terre Prosecco ~ $18 and a brilliant palate cleanser and crowd pleaser. Only available in private stores. Top pick by Dork UnCorked’s Sparkling Wine Correspondent Stacey Brennan of the Hillside Liquor Store (across from Hillside Mall on North Dairy).
Surprises make this event fun so I often enter wines that very few people are aware off, but offer incredible value. Here are a few suggestions for both red and white.
Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo (Spain) ~ $10 private stores only
Periquita (Portugal) ~ $10 both private and public stores
The Den Pinotage (South Africa) ~ $15 private stores only
Hester Creek Pinot Gris (BC) ~ $16 750ml $44 3L (750ml equivalent – $11)
Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) ~ $17 private stores only
Aveleda Vinho Verde (Portugal) ~ $15 private stores only
Segment 4 – Best Buy of the Week
This weeks Best Buy is the Francois Lurton Les Fumees Blanches. On sale at government stores in Dec. for $11.99 this is a killer white wine. Look for it in the French section.
Next Week – Grannies Shortbread
April 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are about 800 white wines available in BC between the price of $7 & $20. There exist no other category of white wines that is as populated as this one and yet it is the most popular range in the province. That puts a lot of pressure on the purchase to deliver. Here are my picks for Top 5 White Wines For Easter under $20.
It’s a big brand name and for a number of years it tasted like it, however there is a new sheriff in Lindeman’s town and he has been making a true, qualitative difference. I guess the good news about the ‘in between’ years is that it has forced Lindemans to keep their pricing almost the same as it was in 1994 when Bin 65 exploded onto the BC market. In 1994 this wine was $9.99 and now it is $10.10 (taxes included) and now it is polished, balanced, sunshine driven with wonderful spice and pastry notes. It is the whole package and if your friends think you uncool for having it, put it in a brown bag and watch their faces when you show them what they have been drinking.
Score – 9.1/10 Best Buy
Available in most stores.
Link to the original review: Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay
Can we all agree that there is no excuse for not enjoying a sunny Spring day! Aveleda Vinho Verde is Spring in a bottle and is a great addition to any table with a selection of cheeses, fruit, cold cuts and even tapenade. Serve chilled and prepare for a fresh, lively, vivacious muse to grace your Easter weekend.
Score – 8.9/10 Over Delivers
Available in private stores only.
Link to original review: Aveleda 2013 Vinho Verde
The French truly have it going on when it comes to finesse in their wines. Here is a wine that when you look at it you could easily walk right past. I know I did on a number of occasions, that is, until a friend of mine who has devoted thousands of hours to the exploration of French wine, told me that this is, for him, the best white wine under $20 on the market.
It shows bright tree fruit freshness and savoury herbs. It has some weight, making it a good choice with ham, but also has a crisp finish making it great with easy to find cheeses, or just a simple salad.
Score: 8.8/10 Over Delivers
Available in private stores only
Link to original review: Domaine de Grachies 2013
Pinot Gris for many years brought shivers to my spine. I have tasted literally thousands of Pinot Gris’s over the last number of years and I would have to say that I had come to the conclusion that the only value in Pinot Gris/Grigio lied in those showing true terroir which meant they were most often priced at $20+.
However this story is the exact reason why I love wine. There are no absolutes. The moment you think you have it nailed, that you can pronounce a fact about a wine or region, something comes about to radically change your mind and give you hope and desire.
That is what the Lurton Pinot Gris did for me. Here you will find a truly authentic Pinot Gris and seems bereft of the desire to pander to the marketing divisions focus group results. As far as Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio goes, I can honestly say there are not many under $20 that show the finesse, class and authenticity as this wine does.
Score: 8.7/10 Over Delivers
Available in most stores.
Link to the original review: Lurton 2013 Pinot Gris
I struggle with the inclusion of a second Lurton in this list, but my purpose here is to let the quality of the wine for the price, speak for itself, and I would be remiss if I did not include this wine in this Top 5 list.
There is so much pleasure packed into this one bottle of wine. One the one hand it is what you expect from a Sauvignon Blanc -fresh, herbal tree fruit, crisp, and yet there is another level that is floral, bright and brimming with highlights. Then just as you are about to put the glass down there is a parting kiss of tropical fruit. Man o’ man there is a lot going on here and all of it provides a wonderful wine experience.
Score: 8.6/10 Over Delivers
Available in most stores
Link to the original review: Lurton fumess blanches 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
I hope that you have enjoyed this list and from me and my family have a wonderful Easter weekend!
March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
It has been unseasonably warm and bright these last few weeks and I can’t help but have my palate turn to fresh whites that are designed, it seems, to pair with bright, fresh Spring days. I contacted a long time colleague and asked him for his reco for best white under $15 currently on the market. Without hesitation he directed me towards the 2013 Domaine de Grachies. Am I glad he did.
This is a blend of 4 grapes of which most are not household names. If you are in the mood for finding a great new white wine experience that you don’t need a mortgage for, here you go.
Tasting Notes Sipping: Flinty gold in colour. The aromatics are tremendous. A fresh combination of jasmine blossoms, fresh pear, some white peach and green apple, and, to top it off, a hint of savoury herbs. The palate is ctirussy and really refreshing. Definitely a delicious reward for cutting the grass, watching the cherry blossoms drop or chatting with songbirds. The finish is vibrant, refreshing and features citrus, pear and dried herbs.
Tasting Notes with Food: I wish I had this with some fresh oysters as I’m sure it would have been tremendous. Instead I had to settle for some cheap brie on Ritz crackers. The wine performed beautifully in reality and virtually, as I considered what it would have been like with fresh oysters on the half shell.
Value: Definitely a great value at $12.99. This wine packs a lot of value into its high-shouldered frame and should be added to everyone’s white wine arsenal for spring and summer.
Added Value: This wines offers added value for those looking to discover new wines, from unfamiliar grapes, from regions outside of their comfort zone. This is clearly an Exploration Wine and would make a great Wedding Wine, Girls Night and Date Night Wine.
Service: Chill down, screw off the top and enjoy.
Grapes: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section: France
Appellation: Cotes de Gascogne
Available: Metro Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Penny Farthing (Victoria), Legacy Liquor Store, Firefly Wines & Ales
February 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Over Delivers & I Love It!! ~ 8.6/10
Years ago I had a torrid and intense relationship that I liken to my relationship with Sauvignon Blanc. She was young beautiful, expressive and bursting with energy. We were inseparable for a number of weeks and then just had to take a break, then we would resume at a torrid pace. It was either full on or full off, there was nothing in between. Sauvignon Blanc is that way for me. I find it easy to dive head long into its vibrant, fresh expressive beauty and then I reach a saturation point where I just can’t have another glass.
This wine seems highly capable of enticing me to fall deep into its seductive embrace and at this price I feel it is well worth the indulgence. Over Delivers
Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is a flinty shade of straw. The nose is fantastic! Bright expressive gooseberry, citrus zest and tropical fruits like guava and mango. The nose alone will make you think of being on your deck in the middle of summer even if it miserable and dark outside. The palate is fresh, vibrant and highly expressive. The finish is crisp and clean and leaves a lovely citrus/tropical fruit aftertaste.
Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with a classic, non-creamy, Ceasar salad and grilled seasoned chicken breast. It was beautiful. It was like a bright spring day that is full of life and rebirth. The citrus flavours really came alive with the salad, while the chicken brought out the tropical fruit and minerality of the wine.
Value: I would be more than happy to trade up in price from $14 California & Chilean Sauvignon Blancs into this wine, and I would likely, for a change of pace, save myself a couple of bucks on Kim Crawford or Oyster Bay (although I really love both those wines).
Added Value: This wine offers added value as a Movie Night, Girls Night Out, or Wedding Wine.
More To The Story: This is a wine that truly makes you feel like the world is your oyster, and, incidentally this would be a lovely wine with oysters. Each sip took me to a place where life was easy and full of optimism. In fact I’m sure that the latin word for optimism is Sauvignon 🙂
Score: 8.6 – Over Delivers
Service: Chill down just a bit. When you bring it out of the fridge and there is still condensation on the bottle, let it warm up for a few minutes and what you will find is that the tropical fruit tones come out. If the wine is too cold these tones are lost.
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section: France
Appellation: Vins de France
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine
Buy Online: Everything Wine
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January 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 7.5 – Over Delivers
About the Wine: This wine is the child of the new generation of winemaking and viticulture in New Zealand and it shows through. Bright youthful aromas of citrus, gooseberry and melon greet your nose. What you notice on the palate is the freshness of the wine without it having biting acidity. The palate shows flavours of citrus, melon and gooseberry as mentioned above, however there is the addition of fresh-cut grass and peas. Think of these last two flavours like little kids playing hide and seek; giggling but a little shy as well. In balance these all work together beautifully. The finish is crisp and refreshing.
Value: This is a tough wine to put into perspective of the market. There has been a lot of price activity from the big boys of Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford where their wines are $17.99. This is most often matched (or exceeded; I have seen it at $14.99 and at that price it is a Best Buy) by Fat Bird. In relation to Oyster Bay at $17.99 Fat Bird is in good stead. A little more youthful and intriguing than Oyster Bay. Oyster Bay is classically New Zealand. In relation to Kim Crawford at $20.99, I would go with Fat Bird.
Would I trade up to Fat Bird from some of the Leyda, Limari or Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blancs from Chile? I feel they at two (or four) different experiences. The Chilean versions are not only a few bucks cheaper, but they are also far more tropical and less vibrant than Fat Bird. When I’m in the mood to brighten my day I would go Fat Bird, if real money is issue I might go Chilean.
Added Value: For those having a Date Night, Movie Night, Girls Night Out, a Seafood BBQ, or are having the ‘Foodies’ over, there is added value in this wine for you.
Service: Chilled but not cold. Take it out of the fridge and if there is condensation on the bottle, then give a few minutes to warm up to enjoy. When it is too cold the wine shuts down its personality; the lovely vibrant citrus aromas and flavours, become muted which allows flavours and aromas of fresh-cut grass and peas to dominate. True enjoyment of this wine is in its balance of aromas, flavours and texture.
As for food (my mouth is watering as I say this), I absolutely adore this wine with fresh, local halibut when it is in season.
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section: New Zealand
Available: Everything Wine, Hillside Liquor Store, Vintage Spirits (Victoria)
Buy Online/Delivered To Your Door: Everything Wine