Archive for December, 2015

December 24, 2015

BK Wines “Swaby” Chardonnay, 2013

Nothing short of glorious. Think Hallelujah Chorus. It straddles the two Chardonnays, if you will, the woodsy New World and brassy old in a Cirque de Soleil exactness that is both rapturous and confounding. And, in doing so, I think it would satisfy a Burgundy snob as well as a punter out for a good bottle with salmon. What’s going on in the Adelaide Hills to produce such finery? South Australia rules: So much depth, peach, tangerine, butterscotch, menthol, hay, it’s astonishing. And, get this: All this artistry at 12.5% alcohol. There is a Santa Claus. Not available in Canada.

BK Wines “Swaby” Chardonnay, 2013

Price: I don’t know how I parted with so much money, but I did, and although I don’t regret it, I do cringe: $40 USD


Market Liquidity: Tidings of comfort and joy.

December 24, 2015

Stoneleigh Pinot Noir, 2013

This poor sucker of a bottle sat on the counter half finished for a week. We couldn’t even bear to put it in a braise. Finally someone finished it off, like a merciful death. Bla. And more bla. It is the epitome of shopping at BC Liquor: Shelf after shelf of boring wine, mediocre wine, plonk, wine that is as generic as post-it notes, as rote as Coke slogans, as exciting as another Hot Tub Time Machine reboot. Wine that hints at the varietal. I don’t know how BC Liquor does it, but they do, and the wine industry loves BC, factory farming uneventful whites and forgettable reds until the cows come home. This isn’t about Stoneleigh in particular, even though this less than stellar bottle is one to re-gift for sure, but just the tipping point on the boredom, repetitiveness and complete lack of creativity and focus you’ll find on the BCL wine shelves. Witness twenty minutes at Pete’s in Seattle and pretty much everything wrong with BCL is captured in an aisle…

Stoneleigh Pinot Noir, 2013

If there is a good metaphor, it’s Vancouver’s thriving craft beer culture, and the snail’s pace it’s taking to get those great bottles onto the shelves. And the pathetic attitude of our “pro-business” government to give a damn.


Price: Less than $20 but when it’s this lacklustre who cares.


Market Liquidity: There is a large and eager market. Apparently.

December 24, 2015

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Noir, 2011

Ever read so many good reviews, see so many publications and pointsters refer to a wine as great or laud it without restraint that you simply cannot pass up an offer?  That’s me and this wine. Rather than offer a review, spend your time on Google (but yes, it’s an elegant sipper with both sweet and tart fruit and a bare hint of menthol).  I simply couldn’t find much fault but believe it or not expectations were high and the delivery was lower.

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Noir, 2011

Price: $28 USD.


Market Liquidity: Some mountains just beg to be climbed.

December 24, 2015

Holiday Bubbles: Champagne Chiquet, Serveaux Fils & Godmé Père et Fils

Champagne Godmé Père et Fils, Brut RoseMarquis in Vancouver special orders a huge selection of “villages” champagne, for lack of a better descriptor, each holiday season. Buy six get 10% off. Of course even with the discount it’s a pricey proposition. But still, how else to experience something unique and interesting and so far away from the Codorniu at BC Liquor? We plowed through six in advance of the holiday season. Nothing had a wow factor but most of it was pleasing. Here are three (cost-comfortable) favorites, each under $60, the Canadian dollar “tipping point” on champers:


Champagne Gaston Chiquet, Tradition

Bone dry. Waves of citrus zest. High minerality. Long stony finish. With seafood (Jacques Pepin’s spectacularly decadent salmon rillettes), superb. As a sipper, well, so-so. Drank like a 14% wine, not a mere 12.5%. Would pair exquisitely with shellfish.Champagne Serveaux Fils Carte Noire


Champagne Serveaux Fils Carte Noire

A 50/50 blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. Yeasty, trace notes of mandarin orange. Settles in the glass with very light effervescence. It seemed thin, with neither the bouquet or richness on the palate you anticipate with champers. At a mere 12% ideal for brunch or AM celebrations. A very long nutty, pear finish. Tanzer loved it. For us, it wasn’t memorable.


Champagne Godmé Père et Fils, Brut Rose

Fun. Light and lively. A gorgeous brunch sparkler (we had it with mushroom leek frittata, croissants from Batard, scones and a fresh green salad). It seemed a little lightweight until we switched to BC sparkling and later Prosecco, both of which seemed dank and dreary comparatively. For me, for the purpose, it hit the nail on the head.

Champagne Gaston Chiquet, Tradition

December 24, 2015

Bruno di Rocca, 2000

Like Dorothy’s magical ruby slippers. A chance buy; Garagiste in Seattle offers, on occasion, mystery bottles. You pay and wait and hope you like it. This was billed as a Tuscan heavyweight. We all know what that means. Barolo. Brunello. I wasn’t expecting a Cabernet Sauvignon (mixed with Sangiovese). And yet, what a stupendous surprise.

Bruno di Rocca, 2000

At 15 years I would say this is on the downward arc of gravity’s rainbow. But even in the Jetstream it exudes a wild, woodsy flair, with green herby notes like sage and thyme, predominant sour cherry on the palate which finishes with a maraschino flourish. The lingering bouquet is like licorice crossed with violets. As a sipper good, with braised lamb shanks outstanding.


It soars in many respects and was astonishing value but I wish I had a bottle three years ago.


Price: $19.98 USD. But Google it; you’ll be astonished at the market price in Europe.

Market Liquidity: Late to the party, but still a good party.

December 24, 2015

Domaine Paul Croses Cotes de Nuits Villages, 2011

A colossal fruit bomb. I don’t know why we’ve been drinking Pinot lately like it’s going out of style, but we have, and this did certainly not disappoint. For less than $20 US the ruby red, light as a feather, fruit punch of this delectable Burgundy was a real wow. Even though it drinks delicate, it stood up to some red meat with aplomb. A pleasant licorice and fig on the finish.

Domaine Paul Croses Cotes de Nuits Villages, 2011

Price: $19.81 USD. Or $150 CDN in the New Trudeau era Canada.


Market Liquidity: A simple pleasure from Burgundy. How oxymoronic is that?

December 6, 2015

Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage, 2013

Pure pleasure. So unlike the previous entry, the anointed Wine Advocate pointster, here you have just the real thing.  Gorgeous texture, grape Kool-aid, rum-soaked currant, a woodsy peppercorn. On the finish, a note of cherry soda. Superb sipper. All Syrah, all Rhone. However, weak at dinner. The tannins and youth of the wine paled with a very mild turkey dish. Too bad.  For a hearty meal it needs more time, much more time.

Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage, 2013

Price: $20 USD before duty and taxes.


Market Liquidity: Black Friday Gold.

December 6, 2015

Bastide Miraflors Vielles Vignes Syrah Grenache, 2013

Bastide Miraflors 93 points

Robert Parker is losing his mind. How in the world can he take decades of experience and proclaim a whopping 93 points on this otherwise very drinkable 89 pointer? It’s baffling. But it sells bottles, his seal of approval.  I guess the crazier the better, for the trade.


I can’t help but feel he’s no longer the credible wine guru and more Peter Travers at Rolling Stone whose movie reviews are often quoted on posters as “Shocking” or “Awesome” or “Powerful” all inconsequential but great for the RS brand.


I won’t waste time reviewing this fine it’s OK nothing to write home about middle of the road red blend which is more than palatable but hardly tips the 90 point scale. Spend $30 and see for yourself.

Bastide Miraflors 2013

Price: If you can find it at BC Liquor, with tax it’s around $30.


Market Liquidity: We called it here first.