Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013

Ridge Mikulaco Chardonnay, 2011

005Bla bla bla bla brilliant chardonnay, bla bla bla perfect balance, bla bla bla bla not sharp or smooth but somehow so delicate and forward both at once as if Saul was transitioning on the road to Damascus bla bla bla a smidgen of oenophile bliss bla bla bla needle in a haystack if you’re on the lookout.  A mere six barrels made; I consider myself privileged to have snagged a few.  Not one qualm of dissent.


Price: A superb value at $25 USD from the vineyard; apparently not worthy of the Canadian market.


Market Liquidity: Too rare to waste words on describing how exceptional it is.

February 22, 2013

Springfield Estate Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

003I discovered this wine at the vineyard, in South Africa, a few years ago.  I had died and gone to wine heaven.  It was less than the equivalent of ten Canadian dollars, we bought lots and took it to local restaurants (a Cape tradition), and it drank like a wine dream from decades past.


Meaning what?  Well, it drinks as if a long lost artifact from France; there is nothing new world-y about it, nothing that smacks of wine consultant advice or some misguided attempt to garner wine accolades.  It is 100% old school and it feels as if the techniques to produce it are in total alliance with the ancient stony ground that makes up the terroir.


On the nose, of the earth and earthy.  On the tongue so brutally primitive it’s as if a time machine at work.  It will make you think of combing through an attic treasure trove.  It does not have the New Zealand knock-your-socks-off greenness, not by any margin.  It is a mix of bright citrus—we got grapefruit—and aromas and an aftertaste of hay, straw, even as it warms, the barnyard.  Eclectic.  Unique.  Satisfying.


It is, unfortunately, not anywhere near $10 CDN.  Or $10 USD.  In the UK you can find it, with some effort, for about £11 (which is around $17 CDN, and at that price an astonishing value).  But in Vancouver it is hard to find, and when you find it, it is a whopping $33 (and the only reason we bought it was, aside from sentimentality, that I had a Christmas gift certificate which took the sting off).


Price: A hefty $33 at Liberty (in their fridge believe it or not).


Market Liquidity: DNA in the amber.

February 17, 2013

Tamarack Cellars Merlot, 2008

004It barely fit in the “wine cellar” and the label was crucified on the way out.


This is not your granny’s Merlot.  Holy crap.  This is to Merlot what Iggy Pop was to the King Family Singers.  It was wildly potent, even decanted, a gorgeous red, yes, but just far too assertive, unctiously awaiting praise, as if to say “How great am I?”


We liked it, but this is not a go-to red, not for us, it just is too much bravado and not enough restraint.  For others, for the sorts who order 40 ounce rib-eyes to share, this is the wine of your calling.

King Family

Price: $20-something US from a shop in Washington.  Their Firehouse Red is $30 in BC at the government stores, but the Merlot is not to be found.

iggy pop

Market Liquidity: Like the third Die Hard; for fans, it’s worth it.

February 17, 2013

Starmont Chardonnay, 2010

"KFC" scallops (Korean Fried Cauliflower)

“KFC” scallops (Korean Fried Cauliflower)

A mini celebration at Hawksworth (David Hawksworth being one of the finest chefs in YVR; he made West the restaurant it is and, for better or worse, it probably never will rise again to the heights he carried it to back in the day).  As a restaurant, with it’s three tangential but not coordinated rooms, mish-mash table locations, including one nestled in a corner adjacent to the toilets, the glitz and glam of one room, the clubby air with Serge Mouille fixtures in another, it’s like “design wars” on some suitably brash wannabe HGTV designer contest.  The service, uneven, from stuffy formal to Vancouver casual, and the crowd a mix of couture and “west coast couldn’t care less.”  But above it all, literally, the food.


Not Vegan

Not Vegan

Oh, and the wine.  We drank by the glass.  Why?  Because Hawksworth has (what appeared from a distance to be the) Cruvinet system (or a facsimile of) which ensures you won’t get a bad glass, no matter when the bottle was opened.  And it is a higher than expected and wonderfully selected wine by the glass selection on offer.


Best desserts in YVR

Best desserts in YVR

Among our vino by the glass pics: A NZ sauv bl (Ned’s, astringently grassy and superb with oily fish and easily available at the government stores), an Argentine Malbec (Altos, deep and alluring), a CA cab sauv (Truchard, pricey, and not particularly my cup of tea), a Portuguese white (Encruzado, not a good sipper but perfect with scallops), a quite good port (Taylor’s 20 year old) and a more than decent Sauternes (Partarrieu, pretty common as “the” Sauternes in YVR restaurants but not a lick above what you would see on a menu in London).


What? You didn't believe me?

What? You didn’t believe me?

All that said though, the star of the night was unequivocally the Napa Starmont Chardonnay, which was inimitably California chard, yet struck a perfect balance of oak and citrus, had a long, elegant finish, and was the nectar I would like to have by the case in my cellar.  At $19 a glass at Hawksworth ($39 a bottle at the liquor outlet), it is unfortunately not in my wheelhouse.  But I give it five stars for a bottle of new world plonk.  To say nothing of the five star food.


Price: Pricey, at home ($40) or out ($19 a glass…).


Market Liquidity: Like a gracious host.

February 6, 2013

Booze Break

018Strictly speaking, you can’t really Save and Stay here because, as the sign on the door says, “No public telephone, No public washroom.”  So once you’ve saved, you pretty much have to leave.  From a capitalist perspective, wouldn’t Save and Leave send a truer message?  Another sign, inside, warns patrons not to clearly read the newspapers.  Although I haven’t graduated to bifocals, most of my reading is less than clear.  It might take Foucault to weigh in on clarity.  But I can clearly see that Save and Stay is not in the cards.

019We are on a brief mid-winter booze time out.  Back soon with more reviews from the lush life.  Enjoy Lent!