June 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of the things about the wine business is that it is a business of passion. I can tell you there isn’t a lot of money in it, and if you were to ask anyone involved they are not in it for the money, they are in it because they love it. So it is sad when you hear that a talented, passionate importer has decided to pack up and move to a different industry because he can’t make ends meet. The silver lining however is that he has reduced the prices on a number of products in his portfolio. Including the Alba de los Infantes 2009 Gran Reserva.
For those that don’t know for a Spanish wine to be called Gran Reserva is must be aged 2 years in barrel and further 3 years in bottle. What this means is that the wine grower and the wine maker saw something in the quality of the grapes and resulting wine that was special. So special that they decided to assume the added cost of a min. 5 years of ageing.
Typically the price for a Gran Reserva wine from Spain starts at the $22 mark and goes up, way up from there. So when the importer told me what the ‘clearance’ price was I started to salivate. It took a while for me to find some bottles in stores, but when I did I was over the moon.
It is not too often that a wine gets a Best Buy rating from me, as it truly needs to punch well above its weight to do so, but this is one.
Price ~ $12.99
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
It may only be $13 but please let it breathe for at least 30 minutes. If you do you will be rewarded.
The colour is a dark red/purple and the nose shows bright red and blue berries, with some spice and leather.
The palate shows a ton of fresh fruit, while the texture is supple and richly textured. The finish shows generous berry and black tree fruits along with some sensuous savoury spices.
I know that I will be buying this by the case.
This weekend all the dad’s in the family will be enjoying a barbeque, and that is exactly what I would recommend for this wine. Slow roasted ribs, grilled meats, chicken. This would also be a delight with some medium aged cheeses right up to some top quality manchego.
Grapes ~ Tempranillo, Garancha
Store Location ~ Spain
Availability ~ Limited to private stores. I got mine from Spinnaker’s James Bay.
March 29, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’m always on the lookout for a bill buster wine that over delivers, so when I was cruising through my local store and came across Knock Out 2014 at $8.99, it was just cheap enough and unique enough to catch my attention.
I have had, and enjoyed, a number of wines from Bodegas Castano in the past, so when I saw their name attached to this wine I was sure I was in for a treat.
This is wine is fairly priced. If you are okay with fairly priced then this is a good wine. However I was looking for something that over delivered for the price and I just don’t think this wine did.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ $6.3/10 Good Drop
The nose showed dark cherries and red berries with a hint of savoury herbs. The palate is medium bodied and well balanced, and the finish was okay with a touch of fruit flavour.
As for food, this would work okay with lighter comfort foods like simple grilled chicken with BBQ sauce, simple think crust pizza, that sort of thing.
Grapes ~ Monastrell (Mouvedre), Syrah
Store Section ~ Spain
Availability ~ Exclusive to BC Liquor Stores
the Dork UnCorked
PS- below is a link to the Wine Folly book on Amazon. Yes this is an affiliate program and it helps us keep the blog going, having said that I highly recommend this book and use it myself. It is colourful easy to read book that you can have a resource. Enjoy.
February 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache, or Garnacha, is a grape on the rise and that is good news for those seeking great wines but don’t want to sell the farm to do so.
Most famously Grenache is a key to Chateauneuf du Pape, but it is also the main grape in regions of Spain such as Calatayud and Carinena, and these are where some of the greatest buys are hailing from.
Garnacha is a late ripening grape that requires a lot of heat to reach its full potential, hence you will only find a few expressions grown in the very southern reaches of the Okanagan in BC.
Garnacha is truly a crowd pleaser grape. Dark juicy fruits of raspberry, plum and blackberry, low in tannin meaning very little pucker. The only challenge is keeping the acidity up in order to insure a balanced wine.
Crowd Pleaser is definitely the phrase I would use for the Castillo de Monseran. Dark juicy fruit, very soft and brilliant with casseroles, Mac N Cheese or Pizza.
Price ~ $8.99
Score ~ 7.3/10 Over Delivers
This wine scores high on the value meter and would have scored higher is there is a little more depth to it. Having said that as soon as I paired it with food it was brilliant.
If you haven’t added Garnacha to your repertoire of wines, this is a great one to start with and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg.
Grapes ~ 100% Garnacha
Store Section ~ Spain
Availability ~ available in both private and public stores.
the Dork UnCorked
January 2, 2016 § Leave a comment
Well another holiday season has come and gone and all that remains are the memories and the bills that will arrive shortly. To that end this show is all about bill buster wines. Each wine featured is under $10 because after all why give up one of life’s great pleasures when all you have to do is reduce expense?
Episode 11 – Link to Podcast
Segment 2 ~ Red Wines Under $10
Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo (Spain) – $9.99 (Private Stores Only)
I have mentioned this one before and ounce for ounce it is the best bill buster value on the market. The wine shows balance, ripe fruit, spice and a long finish.
McGuigan Black Label (Australia) – $9.99
This wine has been available forever in BC and as such it often gets overlooked. This is a blend that includes Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and offers ripe juicy flavours with a round texture on the palate.
Bleasdale Langhorne Crossing Red (Australia) – $9.99
A wine that has been delighting palates across BC for a couple of decades now. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec is medium bodied and offer plenty of juicy fruit and lovely spices.
Segment 3 – White Wines
White wines are typically less expensive than reds. This is a simple function of supply and demand. The demand for white wine is not as great as it is for Red, and there is more supply than demand. The other function here is that white wines have a perception of not being as complex as reds and thus shouldn’t drive as great a price.
Hardy’s Riesling-Gewurztraminer (Australia) – $8.99
One of the most popular white blends and certainly the most popular Australian wine on the market today, and it is no wonder. Ripe, juicy fruit, vibrant, clean with just a hint of spicy character. This wine puts a smile on any ones face.
Millstream Chenin Blanc (South Africa) – $9.99 (BC Liquor Stores Only)
I know I said Millstone on the show and for this I beg your forgiveness and please don’t take my mistake out on this wine as this wine deserves your attention, especially as a bill buster.
Vibrant, ripe fruit seems to explode onto the palate. Well, balanced, dry and an awesome introduction to Chenin Blanc if you have not tried it before.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Gewurztraminer (Chile) – $9.49
Very aromatic and expressive. Ripe generous fruit flavours that feature lychee nut and melon. Floral elements come alive. The wine is off-dry, meaning that it is a little sweeter than bone dry, which is really better shows the true nature of this wine.
Count Karolyi Gruner Veltliner (Hungary) – $9.99
Gruner is primarily found in Austria, however Hungary produces some incredible wines that if they were from Germany, France or Italy, the price would be at least $3-$4 more per bottle.
A vibrant wine that shows orange blossom, white peach, delicious apple and floral elements. A very easy wine to love and a great bill buster.
Segment 4 ~ Box Wines
Although the wines above will only set you back $10 or less (not including tax), some of the best value comes from boxed wines. Boxed wines have a reputation for being plonk. This is patently untrue. Boxed wines last longer not only because there is more wine in them but because the design of the bag in the box prevents oxygen from damaging the wine over time. Although they require a greater upfront cost, they actually save you money when you divide out the cost by regular bottles.
Hardy’s Riesling-Gewurztraminer 3L (Boxed Wine Section) – $31.99 (BC Liquor Stores Only)
I have described this wine above so I will keep these comments to the value. As noted above the regular bottle cost is $8.99, however if you purchase this by the box the cost per regular bottle is $8.00.
Vina Borgia Garnacha 3L (Spain) – $34.99 (Private Stores Only)
Garnacha or Grenache is a great easy to love wine. Ripe raspberry and black cherry, very soft, almost no pucker (tannin), with just a touch of black pepper spice.
If you divide this out the cost per regular bottle is $8.74.
Best Buy of the Week ~ Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo
The house wine and the world’s only 7 star hotel is still the best bill buster wine available in BC.
Have a Great Week
the Dork UnCorked
November 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
There has been lots of talk about the recent changes in Liquor retailing and laws in B.C. Have you ever wondered how we got here? It is a very colourful history and beautifully told in two parts by storyteller Chris Mathieson. Here are the show notes for Part 1.
Link to podcast: The Wonderfully Colourful History of Liquor Laws in BC Part 1
How to get a hold of Chris…
Facebook – Chris Mathieson
Twitter – @cogno
Website: Old Grist Mill & Gardens
Best Buy of the Week: Borsao Garnacha
Coming up next week – Part II
DYK (Did You Know) that Australian Shiraz is the same as Syrah? The terroir & climate insure that the Australian expression is unique in the world of Syrah, as such it didn’t seem right to call it Syrah, so the powers that be in Australia decided to call their expression Shiraz after the name of the town in Iran where the initial clippings of Syrah were found.
Thanks for being a part of the Dork UnCorked, see you again next week.
the Dork UnCorked
July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Laya 2013 is a great value for those looking for a big punch of flavour. If you are feeling bold and like a bull in a china shop, as my mother used to say, this is the wine for you.
Dark almost black in the glass with a huge nose filling aroma of crushed ripe black raspberry, bing cherry and black plum. There is also a hint of pastry and thyme.
The palate is big and bold and just a little boozy which is not surprising given that it is 14% alcohol.
A great wine for Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket or anything lathered in BBQ sauce.
Keywords: bold, juicy, boozy, bbq
Value: 7.4 – Over Delivers… as long as you are looking for a whallop.
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
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 2, 2015 § 3 Comments
Best Buy – 9.3/10
This wine is the embodiment of the purpose of this blog. It is one of those wines that enters the market without much hope of discovery or success, but to those that find it, they are over-joyed.
Tasting Notes: Bright red berries and fruit with some ripe plum underpinnings greet the nose. The colour is dark crimson and the palate echos the nose. The palate is complete, there are no holes in this wine. The texture is bright, supple and of mid-weight. The finish is of medium length and features the juicy red berries prominent on the palate with the addition of delicate savoury herbs.
Value: At $$10.99-$13.99 this is a killer deal and is a case lot buy… as long as you can find it. This wine truly represents killer value and I would happily seek this out.
Added Value: This wine shines as a Foodie Wine, Crowd Pleaser, BBQ and Comfort Food wine. After all many of the dishes we consider Comfort Foods or ‘everyday meals’ were crafted by peasants in Spain, France and Italy.
More To The Story: As I mentioned above this wine is an example of the purpose of this blog and shows that the diversity of the wine world means that one can’t assume that price or brand awareness will guarantee quality. This wine is imported by a small agency and I can see how most would overlook it. The packaging is dull, the bottle inexpensive, it isn’t blessed with a D.O. certification. I can also see where the price might scare some people away as being too cheap to possibly offer quality, but for those intrepid buyers who take the time to move beyond convention, they will be rewarded. For those readers that need a little more convincing that they should be buying this buy the case, This wine is the house wine at the world’s only 7 star hotel, Bariq Al Arab. Fine praise indeed.
Service: Pull the cork and let breathe for 20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times. I love having to let a wine of this price breathe. Complexity and character develop as if a blossoming flower.
Store Section: Spain
Available: Spinnaker’s James Bay, Spinnaker’s Vic West, Metro Liquor Stores, Cascadia Liquor Store, Vintage Wines & Spirits, HIllside Liquor Store, One20 LRS, Cork & Barrel, Sooke River Hotel, Liquor Planet.
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.