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.
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
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 § 2 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 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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January 31, 2015 § Leave a comment
Here we go, the top 3 scoring wines of the week, and what a week it was. Glorious weather and a lot of fun seeing how the wines fared with the meals of the week. To be clear there was no attempt to pair the wines with the meals as the meals were just the usual fare.
You can click on the link and go directly to the full review. In this post, under each of the top scorers I have included an excerpt from the review.
By the way The Dork UnCorked is getting hundreds of views a day which makes it ideal for sponsorship by complimentary items. If you are interested please contact me at my email.
Top Scorer: Artesa 2010 Rioja Crianza
Score: 9.1 Best Buy
Excerpt: “I’m not sure if there is a better value in the Spanish section. Sadly this wine only seems to be available in a very few stores. I would easily put down the Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza at $19.99 for the Artesa. As for trade ups I would happily move up from entry level $12-$14 California Cabernets and Merlots for this wine. Caveat: If you are looking for a big powerful fruit explosion, this is not your wine.”
Score: 8.9 Over Delivers
Excerpt: “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.”
Score: 8.6 Over Delivers
Excerpt: “There are thousands of Pinot Grigio’s in stores these days. After tasting many they divide themselves into two groups- Marketing & Classic. The ones in the marketing group are those trying to take advantage of the popularity of the name Pinot Grigio. Those in the classic range are those that share classic Pinot Grigio aromas and flavours. The Montalto Pinot Grigio falls into the Classic group and certainly Over Delivers for the price.”
I would to hear your comments, especially if you have found one the reviewed wines at a store that I have not listed. If you let m know I will update the post and will forever be in your debt. Otherwise let me know what you think… feedback no matter the nature is makes the blog better.
The Dork UnCorked
January 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.2 – Over Delivers
About the Wine: This wine is a dark ruby purple in the glass. The nose shows fruit aromas bright red berry and ripe Italian plum. The nose also shows white and black pepper, leather, savoury herbs and just the slightest hint of smoked meat. The palate is velvety, round and delivers bold fruit flavours with subtle herbs and spice. The finish is of medium length, soft tannin and dried figs.
Value: This wine, for those that know it, has become one of the most popular Spanish wines to hit the BC market in the last few years. For those looking for a little more finesse and style in their wines, a trade up of $1 to $2 from $10 Argentine Malbec or Barefoot Shiraz is well worth it and highly recommended.
Added Value: For those serving Chicken or Fish at their upcoming wedding this is a great choice for a red wine. A date night that features a plates of cheeses, charcuterie, and prawns, here is your wine… especially if chocolate is to follow. This wine shines when served with comfort foods. A Saturday afternoon treat for me is a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of Cal Y Canto.
More To The Story: You have heard of the concept of terroir? Basically it states that a wine’s character, soul, aroma and flavour are a function of the soil and climate of the vineyard it comes from. In the case of Cal Y Canto I would add another component; the people.
Some of the best wines that I tasted during my travels through Spain as a buyer were at the local wine co-op for a village or collection of villages. I found many wines that had an uncommon ‘truth’ to them. It seems that the simple act of contributing the fruit of one’s labour to be a part of a community wine, gives the community wine an added element. Cal Y Canto comes from just such a place in the middle of Spain’s largest wine growing region- La Mancha.
Service: Twist of the cap and let breathe for about 10 minutes or run it through
Grapes: Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot
Store Section: Spain
Appellation: Castilla La Mancha
Available: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Beverly Corners Liquor Store
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