Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012

L’Ecole No 41 Syrah, 2008

ln41syrahHave been through almost all the other L’Ecole wines I could get my hands on. Why did I wait so long to try the Syrah?  Again, utterly fine, no disappointment.  And, like their other reds, pure varietal nuance, no blemishes.  As I’ve noted before (L’Ecole reviews are littered throughout the blog and I am too lazy to hyperlink, but choose US Washington from the search menu if you like), drinking LN41 wines is like going to wine school—in a good way, like an instruction on the beauty of varietals.


We decanted/aerated this in my new toy, a Menu carafe, that does double duty by aerating and decanting (and you can transfer the wine back to the bottle if you like).  I didn’t keep a constant to compare, but this was magic from the get go.  Strong and forward, not as easy going as say Kilikanoon, in fact a little grittier than the Australian Shiraz-ez we normally drink; think Sam Peckinpah aggressive as opposed to Sergio Leone tense, but the LN41 is artful, not superficial.  Deeply spicy/tobacco/chocolate on a tangy and lingering and flavourful finish.


Price: Twenty something in Seattle; hard to find in BC, but Legacy down at the Olympic Village may have a bottle for around $50.


Market Liquidity: Whole hog Syrah.

December 15, 2012

Eternum Viti Tinta del Toro, 2008

christmas tree eternum vitiFrom the cellar: Anthony Gismondi awarded this 90 points.  Whatever that means it was, is, a beautiful red.  I bought a bottle two years ago, and brought it out Christmas-season, as a cellar treat.  Remarkable.  Well, it is the season.  And who knew I had the cellar discipline?  Given that the previous night we drank of all things a Brunello, and in comparison it dwarfed the majestic Italian red at a fraction of the price, vundabar, ooh la la, and how incredibly wonderful life is with [this red wine] in the world…

Still, we thought it had another year or so to go (but have no regrets, except that I only bought one bottle).  Very smooth, great depth and deeply satisfying.  No harsh tannins, no chalky after bite.  Lovely cherry, plum and other dark fruit nuance.

Price: A remarkable $25 at BCL.

Market Liquidity: Money very well spent.

December 15, 2012

CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino, 2006

Castelgiacondo 2006From the cellar: Another in the big guns we’re pulling out this week.  A gift.  A gift!  I am ready to receive more gifts!  I guess that’s what it’s like as staff down at the Wine Advocate, one gift after another.  Which is maybe why this scored 95 points?  Oh, yes, it was good, darn good.  It was mellow not majestic, with a deep and lingering note of beauty.  There was a lovely berry nuance on first blush, some leathery, smoky notes, and a woodsy finish.  There was also, I think, too much acid.  And without knowing beforehand the “expert” opinion, I would rate this in the high 80s, 90 tops, although the Spectator crowd rated it much higher.  Really wonderful versatile red.  But not the red of your dreams. Not the red you dream Brunello will be.  Not the red your pocketbook has budgeted, that’s for sure.


With lamb shanks: Marinated in wine and vegetables and spices overnight; braised in leeks, shallots and carrots in wine and stock; served with sautéed apple and a reduced sauce with dried apricots, raisins, figs and dates.  Quite frankly, the dish was beyond the wine.  Just over the top good.  I hate to say this but I kept thinking Aussie Shiraz, top-heavy California Cab Sauv, one of those spectacular Riojas that make their way to the government liquor system here.  In short, the lamb cried out for a little more bang for the buck.  Sorry to weigh in on the negative.  What’s the old MadTV sketch?  Lower Expectations…lamb shanks


Price: As I say, gifted, and I would love a gifted wine cellar, but this was in fact a birthday gift, a one off, although I would imagine close to $80 at BCL.


Market Liquidity: Top tier but not the top.

December 15, 2012

Grgich Hills Chardonnay, 2008

grgich hills chardonnay 2008 1From the cellar: Just so damn good.  This is like when you dress up and feel like something that you’re not.  I have the Crockett and Jones shoes that Daniel Craig wore in Skyfall.  When I put on those shoes I feel like something I’m not, much grander, confident and by god do they feel great on your feet.  I would like to win the lottery: Not to be a Barclay brother or a Koch brother though; in other words, not to be some uber-powerful crony on Park Avenue, but rather to drink balanced wines each day and not feel the pinch.

There is a snobbery in the wine world that is repugnant to everyday “appreciaters” such as myself, but there is also immense appreciation for when we have to pay a bit more for something worth paying a bit more for.  As for the west coast, witness, e.g., L’Ecole, La Frenz, Ridge.  I really loved the Napa perfection in this wine.  It wasn’t a fake Burgundy.  In fact, it fell short on some of the buttery expectations I had.  There was more of a citrus kick than I was hoping for.  But Jesus, it drank like a dream.

We served it with (more or less) a vegetarian main, braised fennel, with butternut squash, salad, and some Iberico ham and Rioja chorizo on the side for the non-veggies.  It was superb.  To which I might add, if you don’t know Molly Stevens braising recipes, particularly her braised fennel, then you aren’t even trying.grgich hills chardonnay 2008 2

I guess the sots down at the major wine press mags get to scoff at this sort of wine as beneath them.  But I will swear on a Bible it was brilliant.

Oh, yes, the mandatory wine adjectives: A little short on the Burgundian style, weak on omnipresent Cal chard oak, spectacularly well-balanced, nuanced with citrus, raspberry aroma and a sweet burnt honey overtone with a tropical aftertaste.  Really remarkable.  Just, and I hate to write this but it’s the truth, just a little too expensive for the average prole, and I am the average prole.

Price: Dare I admit $37 USD?  Yes, it’s a fact.  Don’t know where though.  Probably in Seattle.

Market Liquidity: Basic black with pearls.  Not a soupcon out of place.

Like the wine, what balance.  A mere 300 pounds sterling...

Like the wine, what balance. A mere 300 pounds sterling…

December 5, 2012

Famiglia Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008


Potent.  Heavy.  Can bench press 200!  Although tasty, with a sharp blast of jammy, plummy fruit and vanilla, it also has a strident menthol slash cough drop undercurrent that hits your nose like a frozen popsicle.  Better with air, but not significantly better.  You can sense the oak then taste the oak then think about the oak.  I believe the Mr. Parker has a special relationship with oak.  But far be it from me to spread rumours.


In some way, for some people, a gorgeous rich and developed red, but in other ways, brash and too forward, with a chalky woodsy note that sits too long on the palate.


Food friendly (pork meatballs, baked acorn squash, sautéed kale) but still a bit astringent, as it was pre-dinner.


Much lauded, apparently.  So I guess it’s better than my review.


Price: $19.99 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: Press, snatch, clean and jerk.