Archive for September, 2014

September 18, 2014

Verso Rosso Salento, 2013

Local reviewer Anthony Gismondi wrote: “Wow. Delicious soft round juicy red…colour is dark, the nose spicy, the palate southern Italian rustic but with smoky, silky textures.” A little tight with his points, he gave it 89.

This is my take: Wow. BC Liquor has shelves full of mediocre Italian reds, woebegone whites, and at prices that are an insult to patrons. And here, under $20, is this humble blend from the boot, just begging to be shared with friends. It should be the house red at our umpteen nouveau pizza spots and faux-Italian trattorias that dot the trendy shopping streets. Astonishingly good value, a treat to drink. A little shy on the finish.

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Price: $19.99 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: If you can find it, find it.

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September 18, 2014

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris, 2012

Nichol Pinot Gris: Our go-to all summer long. If you can find it, it hovers around $22 plus or minus. Lovely, crisp, gorgeous on the patio, has the stamina for gazpacho, cold meats and cheeses. Great party wine. Guests who don’t know wine always like the pale copper hue and the fruit finish. The acidity is a point of conversation. Seriously, it’s so wonderfully social I can’t believe here we are at the end of summer and I haven’t reviewed it. But I haven’t.

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And I haven’t reviewed the Nichol PG because, if you know wine, I think the Blue Mountain is better. Better in that it’s more evocative of the grape. Move evocative of the grape of the wine worth drinking. (Yes, that’s a dig at the pale, thin, crap from Italy they serve at gallery openings.) This is a gorgeous, fruity PG which, as it warms, has that almost rancid green peppery note that is actually exciting, that you anticipate with the Nichol but it doesn’t deliver. My only complaint is that there is a sweet spot, temp wise, with this wine that’s hard to achieve. My protocol is out of the fridge with a “cool” sleeve, if you know what I’m talking about, and let it sit for 15 minutes before the first glass. If you drink it slowly, the final glass should be a goblet that’s come from the freezer. Fickle bitch, but worth it.

 

I applaud the Nichol, inexpensive, approachable. But I covet the Blue Mountain.

 

Price: $25 (but you can get a case discount at Everything Wine or Kits Wine cellar).

 

Market Liquidity: No chance in hell I could age this puppy four years.

Last of the summer blooms.  Time to retire the patio sippers.

Last of the summer blooms. Time to retire the patio sippers.

September 3, 2014

Il Grigio da San Felice, Chianti Classico Reserva, 2009

From the cellar: Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles. This could be the holy sacrament. I bought a few bottles to lay down nine months ago and couldn’t wait to try one. Ooh la la.

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True, it’s Sangiovese, and that’s the grape you get into verbal tousles over. I like it, but find it (in general) too acid and with chalky tannins. Anyone who has spent a half day in Sienna will beg to differ; some people feel once they’ve set foot in Tuscany they have some omerta-like duty to shill for all things Italian. A dirty little secret of Chianti is that there is more mediocre Chianti than good Chianti. But this reserve red has the hallmarks of the grape, with muted tannins and just enough acid for a gentle kick. The fruit dominates, awe-inspiring. Luscious and lovely. I simply can’t wait to drink the rest.

 

Price: $18.70 USD bottle, December 2013.  BC Liquor $31.

 

Market Liquidity: Mary Magdalene and the Saints. This is like a cashmere find at the thrift shop.

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September 3, 2014

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay, 2006

From the cellar: Quite sensational, particularly as it warmed to room temperature. We’ve been drinking high on the hog lately and I guess this is a pretty high hog. To my uneducated palate, I couldn’t discern much difference from the 20 year old Montelena we sampled down in California a while back. Steely, crisp, acidic, deeply nuanced, without a touch of honeysuckle rose, but with a finish that Michael Phelps couldn’t repeat. There is even a hint of spice, Shiraz style.  I was surprised I had this in the cellar for so many years.  But I did.  Give me some love for self control.

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Price: I am too embarrassed, too disgusted, too repulsed and just plain angry about our government tax on wine to fess up, except to say this was extraordinarily expensive. So here is the question: Is this wine five times better than La Frenz? Is it four times better than a rack of Olivier LeFlaive entry level Burgundies? Is it three times as good as Ridge Mikulaco or twice as good as Ridge Estate Chardonnay? Well, it’s all relative. Each bottle has its strength. My strength is to find incredible joy in plonk half the price of this.

 

Market Liquidity: Connoisseur’s delight.

September 3, 2014

Summerhill Organic Riesling, 2013

Highly rated.  True, it ticks a lot of my wonts too: Low alcohol (8.6%), perfect lunch wine; gorgeous, rich, floral flavours and long finish; inexpensive; expertly crafted; organic to boot.  But it has that German slash Alscace style, you immediately think of Pierre Sparr and then wonder if it’s as great as you think it should be.

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There was a local restaurant here a few years back for which the entire wine list was Riesling.  The chef believed that Riesling was a grape much maligned and for which could suit almost any food.  I’m inclined to agree.  The public, alas, not so much.  The restaurant closed swiftly.  But Riesling really is that beautiful and diverse.  And here, in this very fine example, I give it its due.  But I will add: There is a cloying sweetness that pairs with Asian foods a charm but somehow is just to juice-forward for sipping.

 

If you can find it, buy it, try it, “friend” Summerhill, by all means give this its due.  But I will decline a half case.

 

Price: Difficult to source.  In Vancouver, $27 at Legacy, $20 at the Vineyard and (the prize goes to) $20 at Mud Bay.  Thank you Mud Bay!

 

Market Liquidity: Agonizingly old school, but in a good way.

September 3, 2014

Ridge Carignane, Buchignani Ranch, 2012

More novelty than satisfaction. From the vineyard that can do no wrong, this “lesser” grape gets a stand-up performance, 100% Carignane, but still it feels like wearing old comfortable jeans and not the dressed up no wrinkles nothing out of place reds that pour forth from Ridge with alarming consistency.

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Hugh Johnson once wrote rather famously that the wines of the Languedoc (of which Carignane features prominently) are low-strength and no-character. If you are a curious sipper and want to try what is a fine example of the varietal, this is your go-to bottle; it certainly drinks easy, with character. But, truly, a better idea is to just spend the coin on their East Bench Zin, and get a little whiff of what the Monte Bello promises.

Price: $26 USD at the vineyard. Only 44 barrels produced.

 

Market Liquidity: To be fair, HJ dissed Languedoc in 1971; by 2008 he was lauding the district on his Sunday Times blog. ‘Nuff said.

September 3, 2014

Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Merlot, 2012

Good Merlot. That’s about it. Good Merlot—and you know what Merlot tastes like. Ever since Sideways we’ve either become inured or in love with Merlot. The Nelm’s Rd has all the typical attributes, the soft tannins, vanilla, light oak, ripe cherry. It’s there. It’s what you expect. It’s just not in any way that interesting.

 

We all liked it. It’s enjoyable, it’s social, it’s not too much dough. But put on your “reviewer” cap and it pales to a lot of other bottles in this price range. So there you have it: Nice.

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Price: Under $20 in the US if you can source it.  I’ve never seen it in Canada.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I ever tell you how the ground shook when we had the Woodward Canyon Cab Sauv? This is like Godfather 3.

September 3, 2014

DeLoach Russian River Chardonnay, 2012

Chain mail. It has a steely front, a stony note, and a gun metal finish. Piquant, but not pleasantly so. This hard hitting granite-like style of Chardonnay reaches an apex with, e.g., (the 2½ times the price) Grgich Hills. A wine we love to drink but not to buy… And the De Loach gets a lot of love online too. Cold, lukewarm, or room temperature, it never loses that brutal façade. People must lust after this stainless steel exterior as it tends to end up on heaps of top ten CA Chard lists. A good accompaniment I would imagine with an oily fish, but disappointing on its own. And, somehow, it’s missing the finer floral, buttery notes reminiscent of Burgundy, certainly without the depth we’d anticipated based on other reviews. It’s the sort of wine a guest will ante up a few extra bucks for to impress a host but for which it’s also OK not to open on the night.  It drank very well with a Cobb Salad.

 

Gorgeous Cobb Salad.  Somehow I deleted the pic of the bottle.  Oh well, the star was the food in this case...

Gorgeous Cobb Salad. Somehow I deleted the pic of the bottle. Oh well, the star was the food in this case…

Price: $16 US somewhere in WA.

 

Market Liquidity: It could be Semillon.