Archive for May, 2013

May 28, 2013

La Stella Fortissimo, 2009

004This is a beautiful big jammy mouthful of wonderful red that is a rarity in BC stores and we were lucky to have gifted at a dinner party.  What a blend.  Strong and assertive.  We were wowed that Osoyoos is churning out big reds of this caliber.  Lots of oohs and aahs.  I could lay on the superlatives but unfortunately this is a most stunning example of what we wrote about a few weeks back when we picked up a magnificent Washington blend for less than $15, and I quote:

That’s what many wine lovers in BC call the three-to-one and although incredibly common you rarely read about it in the Canadian wine review columns: Three wonderful, satisfying, delectable reds, easy access in the US, versus one hard-to-source expensive bottle in Canada.  And you don’t read about it much because the wine reviewers don’t pay exorbitant prices for wine and rarely run into access issues the way consumers do.  So, yes, that’s a dig at a) Canadian liquor taxes, b) the reviewers in their wine cloister, c) the wine establishment, and d) the consumers who don’t complain.

 

So sorry La Stella; it was nice while it lasted.

 

Price: Gifted, but I’m told $40+ if you can find it and I doubt you will.

 

Market Liquidity: Life goes on.

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May 28, 2013

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2011

001Refreshing, invigorating, herbaceous, most of what you want in a NZ SB but quite a few dollars more than the $15-18 crowd and without the Cloudy Bay pizazz that warrants the extra bucks (close your eyes and you might take it for Brancott).  Sorry for the short review but this was short on what we were looking for.  If price is no matter, buy a case.

 

Price: $23.99 at Everything Wine

 

Market Liquidity: Not the belle of the ball.

May 28, 2013

Arboleda Chardonnay, 2010

003Blah.  It comes with several prestigious reviews and high points. So it must be good.  But unfortunately this is everything we’re not looking for in a Chardonnay: Heavy, syrupy, cloying, food un-friendly (food-annoying, food-distracting).  I was stunned to see it described as elegant with a subtle minerality in our local reviewer’s column.  No.  Not true.  Ridge, they make a couple of chardonnays that are elegant with a subtle minerality; see one here.  So does Fevre.  And a heap of others.  But, having just come back from Chile where we sipped elegant wines glass after glass, this was a downer of the first order.

A few weeks ago when we had some Huet Vouvray, it, too, had a heaviness on the palate, but the nuance, depth and flavour profile stunned us.  In a good way.  This, not so much.  Not at all.

Price: $21.99 at Everything Wine

Market Liquidity: No dice.

May 6, 2013

Huet Vouvray, Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux, 2008

003From the cellar: If you can cope with brilliance you can get this plonk down.  To which I mean, this is as fine and brilliant as the first time you walk into the Pantheon in Rome where there is nothing but everything.  This wine has that sort of same geometric balance, majesty and awe-inspiring depth.  If you had, say, become jaded with the dross of product adorning the shelves at everyday liquor stores and happened upon this vintage from Huet, you would be redeemed.  It’s a miracle.

 

Honey, litchi, lavender, a gorgeous bouquet.  Light like finest Alsace but not a lightweight; sweet and creamy but not cloying like some German Riesling.  Indescribably rich and rewarding.

 

Expensive.  But there’s a history: I had a 40 year old bottle of Huet Vouvray on a significant birthday some years ago and ever since succumbed to the mysteries of this great domaine.  It’s not like “Vouvray,” not like the Vouvray you’ve seen on a bistro menu in Tours.  Even if it’s a once in a lifetime thing, sooner or later you must try a fine vintage from Huet.  We loved the Sec, two vintages, 2001 and 2009, and the sparkling was a fine aperitif too.  But this moelleux, it takes the cake.

Price: $47 at Marquis a year or two (or probably more) ago.

 

Market Liquidity: State of grace.

May 3, 2013

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blend, 2010

Red blend.  How banal.  Compact car.  Pay phone. Simple syrup.  Common thread.  Could there be anything less interesting than a wine proclaiming it’s a blend?  At least the French are clever in how they present blends.  Bordeaux is, by definition, a blend.  But I digress.

002

The humble boring descriptor on this label belies something spectacular: A gorgeous blend.  Amazing value.  Superb flavour.  Amazing depth considering.  Fruity, jammy, spicy.  We got gas at Fred Meyer and picked up a bottle in Bellingham on a whim.  $13.99.  Why not try it out with some BBQ?  It was only $14?

 

Vineyards across BC’s Okanagan aspire to create a wine like this.  They often fail but when they succeed you will pay $40, $50 or more, and when they do create wines this good they get 90 points and they sell out fast.  You can get in your car, drive to Fred Meyer (of all places!) and get three bottles of the CSM blend for the price of one Canadian half decent red.  That’s what many wine lovers in BC call the three-to-one and although incredibly common you rarely read about it in the Canadian wine review columns: Three wonderful, satisfying, delectable reds, easy access in the US, versus one hard-to-source expensive bottle in Canada.  And you don’t read about it much because the wine reviewers don’t pay exorbitant prices for wine and rarely run into access issues the way consumers do.  So, yes, that’s a dig at a) Canadian liquor taxes, b) the reviewers in their wine cloister, c) the wine establishment, and d) the consumers who don’t complain.

 

So, since this review is as much a digression and rant as a review, let’s toast Mark Hicken who, almost on his lonesome, goes to bat for the consumer at his excellent Free the Wine site.

 

Price: $13.99 USD.  $13.99!  Thank you Fred Meyer!

 

Market Liquidity: Like your most comfortable t-shirt.

May 3, 2013

Buehler Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2010

002Something I really wanted to like, from the label alone!  I read a high-praise review somewhere or someone served it at a dinner and it was magic or the very friendly clerk in Liberty on Commercial (oddly, the most organized of their stores) praised it.  Somehow we had a preconception of loving it.  But all of us found it without much character.  It doesn’t have a steely edge, it doesn’t have a brazen oakiness, it doesn’t have a buttery lusciousness, it’s just a little tiny bit of all the things that often drive drinkers to choose Chardonnay.  Maybe without preconceptions you will love it?

 

It might be the exact wine for a middle of the road crowd, a crowd pleaser.  But it fell flat at our dinner table.  Quite floral.  Pricey to boot.

 

Price $27.99 at Liberty

 

Market Liquidity: Just not in our wheelhouse.