August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
In the late 90’s I worked for a wine importer the owner of which had a penchant for European wines. We had a great portfolio and it featured some brilliant Alsatian (France) white wines. I fell in love with Pinot Gris from Alsace. To me it seemed that the Alsatian expression of Pinot Gris was incredibly pure, refined and elegant.
At about the same time Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio was starting its incredible rise in popularity. Today the shelves are filled with hundreds of Pinot Gris/Grigio’s, the most of which I consider tosser wines.
Tosser wines are wines conceived of not in the vineyard or cellar, but around the marketing table in the presence of PowerPoint presentations and demographic studies. I found so many expressions of PG to be tossers that I stopped buying it altogether. So when a bottle of the Blue Grouse 2015 Pinot Gris showed up on my desk, I cracked it open expecting the worst.
Price ~ $18-$22
Score ~ 8.4/10 (Over Delivers
The nose showed focused and vibrant pear and melon. The palate is incredibly refined and elegant with piercing and pure pear flavours. Bright acidity on the finish makes this wine refreshing and incredibly well balanced. I liken it to a perfect set of pearls. Refined, elegant, pure and empirically pleasing.
As for food, this will be a great pairing with roasted/grilled pork, white fish, and fresh salads with a light vinaigrette or quality olive oil.
Grapes ~ 100% Pinot Gris
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ Private stores only (take a look at the Blue Grouse website for a complete list here).
May 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
I asked Linda what are the two wines that best showcase where Vancouver Island wines have been, where they are going and give reason to believe that the future is bright… oh and are must tries for anyone exploring Vancouver Island wines.
White ~ Rocky Creek Pinot Gris
Tasting Notes: “This is one of our best sellers due to its uniqueness in colour. A short skin contact has enhanced the mouth feel and results in a beautiful hint of salmon colour, which is getting to be very on trend. It balances well with so many foods. Full and smooth on the palate with loads of fruit flavours that continue through a long tangy finish.This wine really showcases our regional characteristics.”
Red ~ Averill Creek Pinot Noir
Tasting Notes: “Delicate but intense. Elegant yet earthy. Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch. The silky, medium-bodied palate features rich black cherry & ripe plum flavours, finished with a touch of spice & soft, supple tannins. Delightful alongside grilled salmon, beef bourguignon, roasted fowl or sautéed mushrooms.”
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.
April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
After meeting the Queen, what do you do? Well for Bailey Williamson, winemaker at Blue Grouse Wines, you become a chef, then get your start in the wine business working vintage in the Barossa Valley of Australia.
What you will notice when you listen to the show (click here for link to podcast version) is how curious and learned Bailey is on all things that come together to impact the quality of the wine he grows and makes.
Prior to doing the show we had a great long chat that brought up so many fascinating topics that we could easily do 2 or 3 episodes. What follows is a summary of our on air discussion. Feel free to let us know what you think of the show and if you have any questions of Bailey or the Dork UnCorked by leaving them in the comments.
Segment 1 ~ Climate Change
Did you know that the Blue Grouse Winery has received 1 meter of rain since November 2015. That is in stark contrast to the Saanich Peninsula who has only received a fraction of that amount.
Climate change isn’t about year long averages, it is about extremes within the year. For instance the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage are extremely wet over the winter and extremely dry over the summer. A long dry summer is preferred to a wet one but the vines need some water at certain times in their annual cycle. For instance water is critical during verasion (time of ripening in the grape where the sugars start to develop; also the time when the grapes change colour. If a red wine grape, verasion is when the grape changes from green to red.). Not enough water and you don’t get sugar development, too much and you get a ton of foliage and the grapes develop too much sugar.
Segment 2 ~ 2015 Wines
I have said it before and I will say it again that I am very excited to taste the wines of the 2015 vintage no matter where they come from. 2015 is unique in that it is universally seen as one of the best vintages in recent memory. The truth to that is only found in tasting.
Recently Bailey bottled the 2015 Quill Rosé and the 2015 Estate Pinot Gris, both of which will be available for release in about 4-6 weeks. He also bottled the 2014 Pinot Noirs but that will be for another show that I’m thinking about… Island Pinots – what do you think?
The 2015’s are looking solid and full of flavour, but just out of interest the 2014 Quill Rosé is tasting at it’s best right now, yet there are only a few cases still floating around. That is the cruel reality of wine. Often when a wine is at its best is when it is hardest to find.
Segment 3 ~ Unique Wines
The new tasting room and winery at Blue Grouse opened last year and by all accounts is well worth a visit. What is interesting is that what sells most out of the tasting room is not what sells most out of a retail outlet or off a wine list.
Ortega, Siegerrebe (or as Bailey calls it a the winery Sieg), Bacchus and Muller Thurgau are not household names and, unless a person is already familiar with them, sit on the shelves in a retail store in deference to items like Pinot Gris. But in the tasting room these are big sellers.
Ortega and Siegerrebe are hybrids created for climates like ours here on the island. They don’t require the same amount of heat or length of growing season to get ripe as do grapes like Chardonnay, Merlot, or Sauvignon Blanc. When you taste wines from grapes that are best suited to an area you can tell. They are vibrant, lively and delicious.
Segment 4 ~ Terroir
Recently Bailey and his colleagues enjoyed tasting Dr. Elizabeth Tomasino from Oregon State University (on the air we mention the Ducks but this was wrong, its the Oregon State Beavers). What became interesting was the discussion surrounding what is actually terroir (the concept that the combination of a particular region’s climate, geography, culture, and foods, create a unique flavour in a wine) and what is microbiology, or part of the winemaking process. The result was that we too often default to ‘terroir’ where the difference is actually made by the winemaker in the winery.
I put Bailey on spot by asking him what two wines that he has made, should everyone try? To get the answers you will have to listen to the show (click here for podcast).
Best Buys of the Week
This week we have two. First is the Quill 2014 Rosé, which although in short supply, is tasting at it’s peak.
Second is the L’Ostal Caze 2015 Rosé, absolutely stunning for its delicacy and finesse. Beautiful on a spring day.
the Dork UnCorked
February 6, 2016 § 1 Comment
What are you going to do for Valentine’s Day this year? Share a romantic morsel or two at home after the kids go to bed. Perhaps enjoy an evening with some chocolate and a glass of wine? Maybe you are planning on going out for dinner. Episode 15 is all about Valentine’s Day, the best wine values for the occasions above.
Segment 1 ~ Shout Outs
Vancouver International Wine Festival – Feb. 20-28, 2016
The Vancouver International Wine Festival is the largest and best attended this side of the Missippi. Harry Hertsheg and his team put on a phenomenal week that includes tasting seminars, winemaker’s dinners and, of course, massive tastings for both consumers and trade.
There will be close to 200 wineries participating which give you a chance to taste over 800 wines.
Click on the link above for details.
Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine by Madelaine Puckette and Justin Hammack
This book is a colourful and easy to follow guide to wine that is used by the trade and those looking to get a greater understanding on the world of wine. I highly recommend it.
Segment 2 ~ Wine & Chocolate
It may seem counter intuitive to pair chocolate with wine, but the right pairing can make the sirens sing.
A classic wine pairing for chocolate is a Port of Tawny Port.
For a Tawny Port look for the Penfolds Club 24 from Australia. About $22/bottle and only found in private stores it is a great value. If you like Fruit & Nut, Almond or Hazelnut infused chocolate, this combination is a winner. Another fantastic option is the Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny ($37)
Chocolate seems to have been made for port. A couple of Port’s that over deliver for the price are the Quinta do Crasto Late Bottled Vintage ($27/bottle) and the Graham’s 6 Grapes ($24/bottle).
Port and Tawny Port are fortified wines which mean they higher alcohol levels than table wines, so if you are looking for some pairing for some table wines lets start with those that go best with Dark Chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Pairing
Dark Chocolate loves Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage (hybrid grape of Pinot Noir and Cinsault).
Here are some of my faves for Dark Chocolate that are currently available:
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia) – $18 available in most government and private stores.
Pey La Tour Bordeaux (France) – $18 available in most government and private stores.
The Den Pinotage (South Africa) – $14 available in private stores only.
For milk chocolate I tend towards juicier wines with soft tannin and a sweeter finish. Although the best pairing for Milk Chocolate is a Port. Here are a couple of table wines for your pleasure.
Apothic Red (California) – $16 available in both private and public stores.
Dream Wines Red Blend (California) – $17 available in both private and public stores.
Segment 3 ~ Special Wines Just for the Two Of You
I know the purpose of the blog is to find the best values under $20, but sometimes you just want to share a special bottle of wine, and Valentine’s Day seems to be the perfect occasion to share something special with someone special. Here are a few choices.
The Colour of Valentines- Rosé
Blue Grouse 2014 Rosé ($18) is made right here on Vancouver Island and is truly a great find.
Celebrate with Bubble
One of the most romantic wines on the market is the Veuve Cliquot (just have your partner say the name and you will know what I mean) – $75 Sparkling Wine or Champagne Section in both public and private stores.
If $75 is out of your price range try the Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay ($22), made in the Okanagan and one of the best Sparkling wines on the market. Available in private stores only.
The King of Red Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps the most noble of the noble grapes and here are a couple that are sure to please when the light do down low.
Beringer Knight Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $35 – California section in both public and private stores.
Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $25-$30 – BC VQA section found in only select government and private stores.
Segment 4 ~ What To Expect When You Are Dining Out On Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest of the year so if you are thinking of a quiet, slow paced meal, I’m afraid that likely isn’t going to happen. Restaurants will be crowded and to that end many restaurants use a seating system for Valentine’s Day.
Usually the seatings are at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. The most romantic and leisurely paced is the 9pm.
If you are planning on going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, then you should call now.
Here are some classic venues here in Victoria that have fantastic food, a romantic ambience and great wine lists.
Il Terrazzo (click the link for details) – Italian inspired. Incredible Wine List, for the best choice let Rob or your server help you make a choice.
Brasserie L’Ecole (click link for details) – French, Belgian inspired. Outstanding Wine List, for the best choice ask Mark.
Cafe Brio (click link for details) – Mediterranean inspired. Fantastic wine lists, for the best choice check with Greg.
Camilles (Click link for details) – West Coast inspired with a huge BC wine list.
Zambris (Click link for details) – Italian inspired with a brilliant wine list. Each server is well trained on the best wine for each dish, but if you can, ask for Frances.
In addition to the above here are a few other great options that you may not have thought of.
Spinnaker’s Gastro Pub – one of the best settings in the city and it is home to the Spinnaker’s Brewery.
Bodega – one my favourite places to steal away for a romantic morsel or two. Spanish tapas with a totally Spanish wine list.
Bubby’s Kitchen – this wonderful neighbourhood bistro in Cook Street Village has a great wine list (Ca Montebello Barbera is a true jewel) and awesome food.
Best Buy of the Week ~ Paul Mas Grenache Noir
This wine is truly a steal at $11. Generous fruit, well balanced and well made, but best suited to have a nibbly with a glass or have it with dinner.
December 30, 2015 § 1 Comment
Pamela is not only an accredited Sommelier, but was the Sommelier at the Empress prior to becoming the General Manager of Cascadia Liquor Stores. She is indeed an influencer and has a keen palate for value.
Montelivini Prosecco ~ $14.99 +tax
I Love this Prosecco for both quality and value, doesn’t hurt that it comes in a nice package.
Nicely balanced, fresh with a hint of tree fruit character make this a staff favourite at Cascadia.
Unsworth Charme De L’lle ~ $21.99 +tax
From the Cowichan Valley, delicious Charmat Method sparkling from Unsworth Vineyard.
Our local look alike to a good Prosecco….
Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Rose ~ $25.35 +tax
Traditional method from Bourgogne, France. Made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Perfect balance of soft fruit flavours and fresh acidity, total crowd pleaser.
Thanks again to Pamela Anderson of Cascadia.
the Dork UnCorked
Tune in each Saturday between 2 & 3pm on CFAX 1070 for the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour.
December 11, 2015 § 1 Comment
It’s coming up on Turkey season and I have penchant for wine styles that are not your run of the mill, so I thought I would give this Vancouver Island made wine a run for its money… and am I glad I did.
Gamay Noir is one of my guilty pleasures. Most famously it is the grape of Beaujolais, but in general I prefer the expressions found right here in BC. Sultry cherry, and smokey grape with layers of spice and a usually a silky spice driven finish. But here in front of me in the middle of a nasty wind storm was a rosé of Gamay.
Rosé is a favourite pairing for Turkey and the truth be told I like the idea of pairing my local raised Turkey, locally sourced veggies and locally sourced family, with a locally grown and crafted wine.
The nose is filled with ripe cranberry and strawberry and the palate is crisp and alive. The finish is refreshing, juicy and offers a kiss of spice, which makes Mom’s gravy and my wife’s stuffing sing.
Price ~ $14.99-$16.99
Score ~ 8.2 Over Delivers
Assuming I have time I will be making the drive to the Winery to grab some or you can find it in your local private liquor store.
Store Section: BC Wines, Vancouver Island Wines
Grapes: 100% Gamay Noir