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 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
When I say the word Shiraz what do you think of? Probably Yellow Tail right? I have a very clear recollection of the Aussie wave that hit our shores in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Every Shiraz coming into the market seemed to fit a very thin taste spectrum. I remember thinking that could be a big mistake. As it turned out, like most things, people tired of the same flavour and body and started to migrate to Malbec thus insuring the rapid decline of Australian wine fortunes in BC.
The fact is that only those Shiraz’s manufactured to taste the same year after year do. 99% of Shiraz made in Australia is not manufactured and actually reflects the region and winery it comes from.
I know that the Grey Label is outside of the $20 but holy crap does it represent a great value. Close your eyes here comes some dorky terms – very well balanced, bright acidity, dense flavours and aromas from start to finish. This is the whole package and thoroughly enjoyable.
Price ~ $29-$33
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
Unscrew the cap and let this wine breathe for a few minutes (10-15) and you will be well rewarded. Stick your nose right in the glass and take a deep breathe. What you will notice is the scent of blueberry, blackberry, ripe plum, black cherry, black pepper, violets, lavender, and just a hint of cured meat. I know, I know it seems like there couldn’t be all that, but there is.
The palate is bright yet full and ripe and the finish is juicy with just a kiss of spice and sultry smoke.
Grapes ~ 100% Shiraz
Store Section ~ Australia
Availability ~ Both government and private stores.
Food ~ Roasted or grilled lamb, Duck, even Turkey, Aged Cheddar.
Acknowledgements: Stacey Brennan, Pam Sanderson, Ernest Sargent, Brianna Kirby, Jami Wood, Karin Kallio, Angela Phillips, Patti Raffle.
the Dork UnCorked
November 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
What makes some people incredible accountants, lawyers, plumbers and entertainers? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that everyone who is fantastic at their jobs brings a special quality. Let’s face it every task can be broken down and learned, but some people just inject a little bit of
inspiration and magic in each step. In the wine world one of the great entertainers was Wolf Blass.
If could be argued Wolf Blass is introduced the beauties and simplicity of wine to more people than anyone else. First he crafted very easy to enjoy wine. Then he made himself available to anyone who wanted to learn more. Finally he tirelessly entertained consumers around the world and made wine approachable to everyone.
When I saw this wine I read the back label and found that it is an homage to Wolf Blass himself and so I jumped at the opportunity to try it.
Hopefully it entertains the palate as much as he entertained the world.
Notes: The wine pours into the glass a dark purple with cherry red hues. The nose betrays the juicy, fruit forward, hedonistic wine this turned out to be. Aromas of juicy red and black berries, pastry and hints of smoky
pepper join a rich, textured palate to make a very enjoyable glass.
I would highly suggest this wine for a romantic comedy movie night or when you have friends over for light and enjoyable evening. It speaks well to fun loving nature of Wolf himself.
Score: 7.5/10 ~ Over Delivers
It pairs really well with mild cheeses, hot dogs, grilled chicken and
mashed potatoes, and plenty of comfort foods.
If you have the opportunity to try this wine, please let me know your thoughts.
January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 8.0 – Over Delivers
Price: $17.99 (also available in 375ml and 1.5L bottles)
About the Wine: The wine that started it all for Australian wines in Canada 30+ years ago is classic Aussie Cab. The nose shows rich, ripe berry, cassis, eucalyptus and spice, while the palate is full, layered and complex. Flavours of cassis, berry, spice and mint dominate the palate. The finish is medium to long in length and is awesomely juicy.
Value: This is a much better wine that wines like Apothic Red and Cupcake Cabernet. In both cases I would recommend the trade up in price. I would also recommend that you save a couple bucks by trading down in price to the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cab from Louis Martini Sonoma Cab and The Show Cabernet Sauvignon.
Added Value: This is a great BBQ wine, and really shines as a Crowd Pleaser or on Move and Date Nights.
More To The Story: A little inside information. The grapes from this wine, although it is not on the label come from the phenomenal Cabernet region of Langhorne Creek. I understand that it will be on the label with the next vintage.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed a renaissance in quality. A few years back the decision was made to get more money out of the brand by reducing the cost of the grapes. Predictably the wine started to get thin, unappealing and would have been given a Waste of Wine rating. However a few years back a new team took over the brand and the winemaking. They decided to invest millions in new winemaking facilities, vineyards and people. I had written the wine and the brand off, until a good friend told me I was an idiot and that I should give it another whirl, I’m glad I did.
Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe or run it through your Vinturi. Grilled up a big thick steak and take it all in. It is also a great pairing with poutine, yup poutine.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Store Section: Australia
Appellation: Langhorne Creek
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Liquor Depot, Cascadia Liquor Stores, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, Liquor N’ More Stores, Hillside Liquor Store, Liquor Express
Alcohol: 13.0 %
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