Archive for January, 2015

January 31, 2015

Gigondas d’Ouréa, 2012

Look at us, drinking Gigondas. Must have won the lottery.

Dourea Gigondas

This is, absolutely and unequivocally a gorgeous expression of French wine making, and yet another testament to how the Rhone can waver between old school and cutting edge without a whiff of pretense. No oak. “Say whaaaaaaat?” I hear Mr. Parker say. Soft, velvet, velveteen, velour, how soft do you need to go? Which is not say no edge, there is is a deeply flavoured, smoky, purple bubble gum nuance that pops like magic. No leather, you’d expect it, but no barnyard, more concord grape veering towards grape Kool Aid. Gorgeous on the palate, wonderful finish, hugely enjoyable.


Price: $30 USD before the CDN dollar tanked.


Market Liquidity: Disturbingly alluring.

January 31, 2015

Pewsey Vale Riesling, 2013

Pewsey Vale RieslingWe discovered the PV at Chambar, a lovely (sort of ) Belgian themed restaurant in Vancouver which moved down a few spots last year into a gorgeous new loft space. They sell the PV by the glass. $14. Ouch. However, it’s astonishingly good and hugely food friendly.  It’s great to see such a wonderful wine btg.  But, honestly, we had to drink a second bottle at home just to make sure it wasn’t what we call restaurant deception (good food and good service can make OK wine taste better than it is). I thought it was a fluke. It’s not.  Get some.  A stunning (if maybe typical) example of Australian dry Riesling, reminiscent of many similar whites from back in the day when Sydney was home. Gorgeous fruit on the palate, lightly acid, a stony, flinty edge overshadowing the citrus, a bit flat on the finish. Did not drink as well with Indian (home-made, eggplant korma, dry baked curry vegetables, etc.) as I had hoped, but was marriage with a rich chicken dish. You will not see a wine like this fly off the shelves in BC, it’s not to our palate for some crazy reason. Too bad. Very good value for the price.

The elegant dining room at Chambar

The elegant dining room at Chambar


Price: $23 at BCL.


Market Liquidity: Dry like Buck Henry; not to everyone’s taste, but perfect for some.

January 2, 2015

Clos du Soleil Celestiale, 2012

It has something of a rough hewn log; a palatable blend that isn’t perfectly balanced. All the lovely notes, from violets and oak to heartier fruits, are there, to some degree, but not in equilibrium.

clos du soleil celestiale

We found it drank a little “easier” as a sipper than with food. In the end it was just to unremarkable in the $28 blend category to warrant a second thought.


Price: $27 at the friendly VQA stores.


Market Liquidity: A lot of promise, just some delivery.

January 2, 2015

Giudicelli Patrimonio Rouge, 2011

Wine from Corsica. How refreshing is that? I feel like Kermit Lynch is stocking my cellar. But he’s not. The vagaries of the BC Liquor distribution branch weighed against strategically staged trips to Seattle are a battle of wits and the only way to bear the repetitive boredom and ludicrous prices of wine in BC.


Invariably, Seattle wins out. As with this unfiltered red.

Giudicelli Patrimonio Rouge, 2011

Light, spicy. But not thin and forgettable. We had an Australian Malbec over the holidays, the Bleasdale. Holy crow was that a disappointment. Thin. Super model thin. And not in any way fashionable. Kudos to Oz for trying to make a go of Malbec, but three weeks in Argentina/Chile would disabuse even the most naïve vinophile that Oz is hitting the mark.


I’ve always imagined what’s going on in Corsica is going on against the grain of the Robert Parkers of the world. In a way, this bottle is an exemplary example. The Patrimonio is a mere 11.5% alcohol. Light and lovely. It sipped like a spice cabinet, fennel, rosemary, fig, metallic finish. But it drank with food chlorinated, like a sip at the community centre pool. Overall we were pleased and placated but not wowed. Yet, that said, I’d return again and again if BC Liquor could so much as demean itself to offer such an offering.


Price: On Santa’s sled. But, presumably, $20-25.


Market Liquidity: You can’t always get what you want. But you can try sometimes.

January 2, 2015

Sea Cider Pippins cider & Cambremer Cidre de Tradition

Sea Cider PippinsCider seems to be surfing in the backdraft of the craft beer revolution. But there are a lot of old school bottles, if cider is your thing, you don’t need to go all hipster. For example, if you Google Silex and France you are likely to turn up Sancerre, but there is in fact an intriguing Normandy cider we sampled during a tasting menu at Hawksworth just before Christmas called Silex. I liked it so much I spent several days tracking it down (finding it, eventually, at Marquis, for a shocking sticker price of $28.90—ouch! Pass… But there is a great blog, here, with some passionate reviews).


In my quest to seek out the Silex I came across numerous other artisanal ciders and thought two were worth a review. If you grew up in the Pacific Northwest you are familiar with BC Cider products, dry or semi-sweet, innocuous, ultra-effervescent, although refreshing mid-July. Other brands, such as Merrydale, have entered the market, but nothing has won us over.


As with all things “artisanal” we are more than willing to be swayed. In keeping with our under-$20 mantra, we picked up a Sea Cider labelled Pippins; they have a few others, but we liked this best. Without doing any research, I am hesitant to believe there are enough Pippins grown in all of North America to support a cider product made with Pippins (the name is a little too olde worlde). But this dry to off-dry, lightly effervescent, and completely inoffensive cider could win over even the most stalwart opponents. (Cider, in the UK, is considered a “ladies” drink and, if out with the “lads” they are likely to mock you for a cider order, regardless of origin.) But while it has appeal and is easy on the palate, it also did nothing to deter us from returning to a light and attractive white wine.

Cambremer Cidre

The Cambremer, well, another story. This had most of the characteristics of the Silex: Funky, earthy, of the woods, it mixes the rich sweetness of a caramelized apple treat with the damp earthiness of eaves teeming in cedar fronds. Absolutely certainly not to everyone’s taste, probably a very small minority, this 4.5% cider (yes, 4.5%, not a misprint), has huge culinary use, I would recommend at lunch, with cheese, cold meats, on its own as a late afternoon quaff, most certainly with pork. But, all the same, it has a wildness, just teetering on the obnoxious. Not unlike some French waiters. Ouch again!


Price: Both retail between $14 and $16 depending on where you can source them.


Market Liquidity: Sea Cider accommodates; Cambremer situates.

January 2, 2015

Cava Pere Mata Cupada No 15

Cupada No 15

You’re in Barcelona. It’s 5 p.m. Dinner isn’t until 10 (and that’s the earliest reservation you could get). You do what any sane Spaniard would do: Settle in for some tapas at a local bar along with a few glasses of wine. Let’s pretend they serve the Cupada No 15. You could do worse. Much worse.


As in the cloying, heavy, often sweet and totally forgettable sparklers that take second string to cold omelettes, fish fritters and hard cheese.


Pungent, strikingly dry, and with a freakishly phony fruit aroma, this is a lovely Cava not in the tradition of, say, Segura Vidas (or whatever plonk your local has on the shelf). At a mere 11.5% it’s also ideal to accompany later afternoon tapas. Or a Sunday brunch. If you can’t bear the virtue of a dry sparkler add a teaspoon of Campari for elegance or a tweak of Contreau for those addicted to sugar.


No complaints, if, in the end, as austere as an El Greco.


Price: Holiday favour, but Google would lead me to believe something between $15 and $20.


Market Liquidity: Spare, sere and satisfying.