Archive for November, 2015

November 28, 2015

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer, 2014

Much loved. You may be hard pressed to find it. For us, sweet to the point of cloying without a lightness the varietal demands and without the balance the reviewers claim. Ever eaten a series of lychees then hit upon one overripe, sweet to the point of annoying, cloying? That is sort of this fragrant and otherwise lovely wine. It just goes too far in one direction. But one the nose, striking, and although too heavy it cuts through Indian with aplomb. Still, not a keeper. But don’t take it from us. Gismondi gave it 90, Aspler and Schreiner gave it 91, Maclean 92.


Beppi in the Globe was perhaps the most honest, writing if a good Alsatian gewurz hit the gym and lost ten pounds it might be this.

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer

Price: A spectacular value at $16.99 before tax. At this price, take the dip.


Market Liquidity: Beppi rules.

November 28, 2015

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico, 2011

Lively. I believe that’s what the professionals say about a wine of this sort (i.e., the ones they score in the mid-80s). All the component parts of a good Chianti delivered just slightly below the bar. Fruit? Check. Scads. Light tannins? Check. Smooth finish? Perfectly palatable if unremarkable. You can score this in the US for as low as $7 a bottle. It’s in the low-20s in BC. A tad too much acid we thought but a crowd pleaser.  By the case at $7USD. Have a browse in BC.

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2011

Price: $22 at BC Liquor


Market Liquidity: If the other option is a bottled swathed in wicker, choose the Gabbiano.

wicker chianti

November 23, 2015

Waxwing Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2013

Words fail me a bit on this one.


As a sipper, as a stand alone wine, as an evocation of Pinot, this is sensational.

Cedar Waxwing Lester Family Pinot Noir

It has a powerful and enticing bouquet, the “attack” is heavy like Grenache leather and Cabernet pepper, but it immediately softens, the finish is velvet, soft, elegant, accomplished.  All you can do is take another sip to make sure you weren’t hallucinating.  Anything to moan about?  It can’t stand up to food.  To gentle cheese or mild meat or even a fish soup.  It was like a Faberge egg; delicate and lovely under the spotlight but not meant to be part of the diorama.  So what?  Open something else at dinner.  Ooh la la.


Price: Lost track.  I think low 20s USD.


Market Liquidity: A spectacular songbird, a no less spectacular Pinot.

November 23, 2015

Jean-David Seguret, 2013

Our favorite “ordinary” wine of 2015 was the Mus-C; the JDS comes within inches of meeting (and exceeding) the challenge. It has that earthy, pungent sincerity of wine, none of the aplomb, pizazz and spectacle of, say, a California Cab.

Jean-David Seguret, 2013

Other highlights: Biodynamic, indigenous yeasts, no enzymes, no stabilizers, sulfurs only when and as needed.


It is not perfect; the tannins are a tad cloying, the eloquent perfume on the palate is much diminished on the finish. The tangents of violet and plum provide beautiful high notes, but some leathery undertones aren’t as polished as, say, a Gigondas from a few months back. There are, quite frankly, better Grenache wines on the market even in BC but this one fact is true: You cannot buy this wine in BC. Let me repeat that: You cannot buy this wine in BC. You can’t special order it, you can’t petition the Liquor Board, you are just going to live without it. Unless you order it to be shipped to the US, bring it across the border, pay taxes and duty (and gas to and from the border), then, yes, you can have it in Canada. And that, that alone, is the reason we write this crazy blog. To show that wine in BC is still a weirdly socialist highly controlled over taxed and madly administrative industry as opposed to any affection towards art, finesse, appreciation and well you can see we’ve broken our cardinal rule of over-proselytizing…


Did we like it? We loved it. The imperfections won us over. The imperfections were, in fact, deeply engaging.


Price: Under $20 USD.


Market Liquidity: Clark Terry mumbling; cool and unique and you don’t understand it but you totally do.

November 23, 2015

Chateau Tour Saint-Fort, Saint-Estephe, 2005

From the cellar: Shag carpet. It is that smooth. A gorgeous Bordeaux, no doubt, but (and this is an ongoing problem) the critical raves for 05 have become tiresome, the expectations too high, and the wine, overall, great but not Ben Hur meets Avatar meets Titanic meets Ridley Scott on a soundstage epic. Good is different.

Chateau Tour Sain-Fort Saint Estephe

The smoothness comes with some funky, fungal, mushroom like undertones, a sharp peppery bite, which doesn’t linger, and sweet notes of cherry and currant. We decanted and drank slowly over an evening. It didn’t markedly improve.


In order to really impress someone you need to be thinking about the 05 vintage, looking at the label, and content to partake. But if you lined up some New World alternatives, I’m not confident it would blind taste as well as the pointster’s scores. Ridge anyone?


Price: $28 USD although I didn’t date the purchase. Still, at least half of what it would have cost in BC (and, worse, you would have had to slog your way through the mad crush of Bordeaux release day at BCL…)


Market Liquidity: Out to impress.

November 8, 2015

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir, 2011

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir, 2011

This wine is so subtle it makes Ricky Jay’s sleight of hand look mechanical. You know the old WASP adage “put on all your jewellery then take one piece off”? That is sort of this Pinot: First make a Merlot, then take away all the character.


Which is not to say it’s not a wonderful vintage. But it does lend itself to the double negative. Very easy to drink, smooth, supple, gentle. It’s like “Welcome to wine!” for dummies. There is nothing aggressive or forward. The herby notes, even the more pungent woodsy pine and wet earth are muted; think Miles Davis on smack. It really is that low-key. And that, to me, seems to be the problem. While a huge accomplishment, I’m sure, to produce this caliber Pinot, it lacks something assertive that the very best of any varietal brings to the palate. It’s like the million and one Banana Republic cashmere sweaters; fine wool in a standard cut, ad nauseum. Subdued is great, but sooner or later you need some brain candy. For us, this wine was very impressive but couldn’t hold our attention.


One comment was that it drank like an entry level drug.  One sip and you’ll be hooked on Pinot.


Price: $29 USD which I know was a deal but still…


Market Liquidity: Glass half full: A plain black Bruno Cucinelli scarf will set you back three thousand. Sometimes subtlety is warranted.

November 8, 2015

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne

A split before dinner. How civilized. It’s been a few years since we popped a Roederer. I’d forgotten how much the toasty yeast balances with the fruit. There is more fruit than perhaps you expect, but the finish has a lovely caramel note that is sharp and pleasant. If only all the apple cider artisans could take a page from Louis… At 12 per cent alcohol, refreshing (both meanings).  If you don’t mind spending the dough, highly recommended (and, truthfully, much better value than several non-vintage labels above it, hint hint Bolly). A few fewer bubbles than, say, Veuve.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne

Price: The bottle will set you back $70 at BC Liquor; the half bottles at independent shops will set you back $40.


Market Liquidity: And James Bond prefers vodka? It takes all types.

November 8, 2015

Quinta do Cardo Reserva, 2010

The tannins are striking. There is a floral, velvety bouquet, and a deeply impressive (Robert Parker type) fruity finish. But like a smooth take-off that undergoes brief turbulence, the tannins are a bit of a shock to the system. A high scorer with the pointsters it nevertheless seems well-intentioned without perfect balance. For those with patience (and cellars to boot) probably a very good investment.

Quinta do Cardo Reserva, 2010

An interesting area of Portugal, grown in purportedly the highest vineyards of the land which create a natural blustery protection from pests and result in an organic red of wonderful character. The 20 months in new oak do no disservice; it’s light on the wood, vanilla and aromatics that in California can overpower and while reminiscent of Cab Sauv has it’s own woodsy character which is interesting (if not immediately lovable).


Very likable overall, and up to snuff with red meat. With time and air, deep cherry and dry herbaceous woodsy flavours. But Portugal is still something of a mystery when it comes to wine, producing uneven bottles of both stunning depth alongside (dare I say it?) Periquita style plonk.  If this sits amongst their highest honours, it might be better to just stick with Espana next door.

Quinta do Cardo Reserva plaudits

Price: Extremely good value at $19 USD.


Market Liquidity: Potential. But not perfection.


Interesting Blog Non-Sequitur: Our very first review of Touriga Nacional!

November 8, 2015

Carmina Burana Riesling, 2014

Carmina Burana Riesling, 2014

A barrel fermented Riesling that echoes some of the finer Oz examples; we were reminded of Western Australia’s Alkoomi. Despite the reviews, we didn’t find it too acid although it has a piquant resonance; pear aromas, a tart quince like undercurrent on the palate, a short, lemony finish. Straightforward honest delectable white wine. Leftover Chinese anyone? It is much more new world than the Eroica, another WA stalwart, and has none of the cloying sweetness associated with some (unnamed) German Rieslings.


Price: Sinfully cheap at $9.99 USD, but commonly around $25.


Market Liquidity: Lush as in luscious. Nice way to break two weeks on the wagon.

November 8, 2015

Rockwell-Brown Bordeaux Blend “Red Mountain,” 2010

BananaBanana. That’s what came to us, on the first super fruity sip, that delicious if nearly synthetic banana ripeness. And then, on the palate, it unfolds with layers of deep fruit, nectar of the gods. Stellar.



The vineyard apparently went bankrupt, they auctioned off their assets, and we scored two precious bottles of this gorgeous blend for fire sale prices. It was like paying for a Leaf and taking possession of a Tesla.


The wine tends to formality, think black tie or morning suit; it would be sinful to have this with anything less than a fine cut of what the World Health Organization claims will all give us cancer (we sipped it on its own, to huge satisfaction, then with braised lamb shanks, where it teetered between gorgeous and arrogantly good).

Rockwell-Brown Bordeaux Blend Red Mountain 2010

If you were lucky enough to score some of this boisterous Bordeaux blend, congrats.  Honestly: A bottle like this is why you make an effort when buying wine.


Washington’s “Okanogan” so outstrips the “high end” BC “Okanagan,” so much of the time, it’s simply an embarrassment. Like they say, it’s not the varietal, but the terroir.


Price: Wait for it… $16.99 USD.


Market Liquidity: Yet again, Walla Walla trumps BC. USA, USA, USA.