Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

A hefty Argentinean red impossible to dislike.  Big.  Not Tom Hanks Big but Al Pacino Godfather II powerful big.


Corked, decanted, as a sipper, tobacco, smoky-figgy, dark ruby colour, lush and fruity.  Quite different with dinner (pork loin chop broiled with olives, capers, lemon juice/zest, garlic, chicken stock) and roasted celeriac.  With food it became more typically Cab Sauv, peppery, not quite as smooth, some vanilla and tannins on the finish.  It didn’t taste new world to us and it shows yet again that whatever is going on down Argentine-way is working like a charm.   Great label to boot.


No complaints.  Liked it all around.  Only reservation is its weight, if you will; a little top-heavy for everyday consumption.  As they say in the famous Spectator, “great value.”


Price: $21.99 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Call of the wild.

April 26, 2012

M Chapoutier Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage, 2008

From the cellar: The mystery syrah: Don’t know when I bought it, where, how much it cost, all I know is it made its way into the cellar and we pulled it out, decanted, and drank it last weekend.

Remarkably and distinctly and unmistakably French, like drinking syrah in a French restaurant.  No heft but with a generous flavour.  Pale colour, very peppery, light wine with a dark fruit taste (a little like the dark coloured Jelly Tots which were, I suppose, a facsimile of black currant).  Not deep or mysterious and a touch too thin on the finish.  But we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was like having a favourite dish you haven’t eaten in a long time.  And, of course, this sort of wine is way out of my everyday price range, so it was a treat.

Oh, worth noting: 13 per cent alcohol.  H0w perfect.  Note to California: It can be done, brilliant wines under 14 per cent.

Price: I’m sure it was a splurge; wish I knew.

Market Liquidity: A pleasing departure from Australian heavyweights.

April 25, 2012

Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc / Viognier, 2010

This wine pulled a Zelig.  Again, very rarely do you see the professionals review wine this way: First night with a Whole Foods wild salmon pot pie the wine fell flat.  It was steely and sharp and unappealing.  Second night, with a homemade Thai curry (base of green curry paste, Thai basil, coconut milk) the wine came alive with dimension and nuanced flavours of straw and sweet tropical fruits.


Wine and food have character and when they clash it doesn’t matter how many points Robert Parker has awarded a bottle.  Oh, and wine and food is how most of the world enjoys wine.  It seems so irrelevant to us that wine and food are perpetually treated as distinct.  It’s like deconstructing bread.


This, for us, was a Chenin Blanc; we’re not smart enough to get the viognier but the label promised us it was there.


Did we like this wine?  We found it versatile and interesting, a decent sipper, a great mid-week selection, and refreshing fresh from the fridge, but if we were to serve a west coast Chenin to guests it would be the L’Ecole.  (And then we could pull out the Vinum as the back-up…)


Price: $18.99 at Marquis, one of the friendliest spots to buy wine in Vancouver.


Market Liquidity: No harm no foul.

April 24, 2012

Frei Brothers Russian River Chardonnay, 2009

The type of California chardonnay that people with a preconceived notion of chardonnay think they’ll get when they buy a Californian chardonnay.  Which is both a compliment and, for some, reason to choose another bottle.  It also seems to be what the myriad chardonnays distributed by Gallo aim for.


We drank it with a cheese soufflé (Tillamook two year old white cheddar with some Spanish smoky paprika), fresh asparagus and a field greens salad.  If it was for guests I would certainly not have chosen a chardonnay but it was a Tuesday night and you know how these things go.  Worked a treat, although a tad heavy and more powerful than the wine needed to be.  Hugely satisfying still.


Pear and peach and vanilla dominate.  Appealing crispness.  And it won’t break the bank.


Price: $16.99 USD, no longer available in BC (was until, I think, 2006).


Market Liquidity: Nothing left to cork.

April 23, 2012

Joel Gott Monterey Chardonnay, 2010

Smooth and velvety unoaked chard.  Marginally sweet.  Firm on the palate but perhaps too short on the finish, no lingering fruit.  Steely, yes, but not too much citrus.

Don’t think I’ve ever had a “bad” bottle of Gott but, at the same time, don’t have any strong memories of Gott.  In the US, where they sell for a song, the Gott wines tend to be uber-value.  In Canada, there’s a little more competition in the $23-26 price range and they are good, worthwhile, but not brilliant.

As we let it sit, and it warmed, and with some air, it tended to reveal more traditional chardonnay vanilla and pear, but still nothing exceptional.

Price: $22.99 at Everything Wine

Market Liquidity: Satisfactory, in a good way

April 18, 2012

Manos Negras Torrontes, 2011

Tart but not biting, both fruity and dry, extremely refreshing, a fine companion to anything oily, but slim (if you will) without much dimension.  We liked it, just not enough.  Case in point: It was an aperitif several nights running, enjoyable each time, but never spectacular.  Another wine that Robert Parker apparently loves that we found just OK.  Great label.


Price: $19.99 Kitsilano Wine Cellar.


Market Liquidity: A trifle underwhelming.

April 17, 2012

Sheridan Vineyard Mystique, 2008

Nectar from the gods.

Does not require a point system or a list of superlatives or connoisseurs weighing in.  This is a deep, dark, black cherry whopper of a red, fulsome and lingering and delectable and luscious.  In fact, if there’s a drawback, maybe it’s simply too much of a good thing for some people.   Be warned: This has heft; it’s no cru Beaujolais.

Price: Gifted.  Sweet.  When friends treat you like this it’s either because they love / admire you or think you’re a wine snob.  I’ll take it either way.

Market Liquidity: Do not operate heavy machinery after imbibing.

April 16, 2012

La Frenz Montage, 2008

From the cellar: A few years ago I bought a case from La Frenz.  Well, that was the end result.  First, I had a glass of their (exceptional) chardonnay at the Pointe restaurant at the Wickanninish Inn in Tofino.  I then went to my favourite independent wine store which just sells BC wine and they told me tersely that they only sold VQA wines which is both insulting to the customer and to the many diverse and wonderful wines not VQA.  So I went online and ordered non-VQA wine.  And, without any issue, drank a case of La Frenz wine…


Somehow the Montage never made it out of “the cellar” and I pulled it out last weekend at random.  It deserves two reviews.


First, fresh from the bottle it was magnificent.  Delicious.  Very generous fruit, soft and (I hate this descriptive with wine, but it was truly) supple.  Vanilla.  Nominal tannins.  Long finish.  Gorgeous.  Honestly, it was exciting finding a wine this good sitting around in my wine “cellar” just waiting to be enjoyed.  It put the reds in my case from Le Vieux Pin to shame.  Then, after a glass and a half we served it with dinner.


Second review: It was not nearly as food friendly as it was on its own.  All of the sudden it became a very simple wine, one-dimensional, acidic, and strikingly food non-complementary (with a very straightforward, basic, and wine versatile meal of chicken, vegetables and salad).


The “con-no-sir” wine press rarely reviews wine in this way, as though wine could never be spectacular one way and not another, but as wine is (for us) mainly something to accompany food we find this all the time, extremely common in fact—a pre-dinner drink and our concept of the wine differs greatly from a glass of the same bottle with dinner.  It just shocked me how great the difference was with this particular wine.


Price: I have no idea; forgot to record it.  I imagine around $22 plus shipping.


Market Liquidity: Good, but no cigar.

April 10, 2012

Ned Waihopai Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

This was the only wine we had on hand for a last minute dinner of scrambled eggs and sautéed kale.  Although I’d never recommend an SB with eggs it worked (oddly) really well, surprisingly well, due in no small part to the fruit.  Gismondi reviewed this as having a bit more fruit than the last vintage but I would review it as being too fruit forward, a lot of apple, tropical fruit notes and some sweet berries (wine writers write gooseberry but I doubt I could readily identify a gooseberry…).  In fact, for my taste, it is missing some of that green herbaceous twang which is a hallmark of NZ SBs.  It’s still excellent value and at the price great to have on hand (you never know when you’ll need a bottle!) but I would be more inclined at the under $20 mark to go with the Map Maker or Brancott.

Price: $15.99 at BC Liquor

Market Liquidity: Makes a nice change.

April 4, 2012

Chateau Ste Michelle Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc, 2010

Uber-refreshing.  Very crisp and acidic.  Mostly, for us, grapefruit and citrus.  Sharp and clean out of the fridge and as it warmed to room temperature there was more nuance to it but it also lost that cool freshness and appeal it had “too cold.”  None of the New Zealand green or floral Sancerre-ishness you might expect but still very pleasant.


With a vegetarian main (carrot, dill, feta risotto) it was a perfect pair.  As a sipper, so-so.


Price: Gifted, not sure.  Most CSM wines are $24 and over in BC though.


Market Liquidity: Base hit but no homerun.