Archive for January, 2016

January 29, 2016

Tabali Reserva Especial, 2009

Tabali Reserva Especial, 2009

Revoltingly satisfying. Luscious. Profoundly food friendly. Deeply addictive. A most elegant blend of self-centred Syrah, paternalistic Cab Sauv and a cheeky, loose and seductive Merlot to round out the bunch. I kept thinking of On The Town; three compadres out for a night.


Not available in BC (surprise.  Sigh…). But you can score the much less satisfying, and much less interesting, Tabali Pinot at BCL.


Price: An astonishing (heartbreaking?) $16.40 USD in 2015


Market Liquidity: The Bronx is up. The Battery is down. The Tabali sits centre.

January 28, 2016

Boschendal Chardonnay, 2012

Boschendal Chardonnay, 2012

It’s a Chardonnay.


Price: $27 at Legacy.


Market Liquidity: Longfellow’s sentiment of ships that pass in the night is, at least, more enduring.

January 28, 2016

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Like air-dried linen, crisp, sharp—sushi knife sharp—but comforting nonetheless. The deep rusty metallic Semillon has superb balance with a muted and peppery green Sauvignon Blanc; we felt the Semillon was front and centre, although many punters disagree. The briny finish is long with touches of preserved lemon, orange blossom and, believe it or not, heat. None of the hay you associate with New Zealand. For those who appreciate Bordeaux Blanc (more please Nicolas Thienpont), stellar.

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Hugh Johnson called Bordeaux, three years ago, a luxury item; rightly so. The “emerging markets” have not made a decent claret any more affordable. And we’re not in the market for Hermes or Prada, so decent Bordeaux is in fact a treat. But for those with the deep pockets we can be thankful they consider Bordeaux Blanc a lesser wine. Thank Jesus. It may be a lesser wine to the aficionados, but the craft is pure Bordeaux.


Intellectual aside: This wine reminded us of a 1921 poem Nabokov wrote to his mother which included the quote “…my mood is as radiant as ever. If I live to be a hundred, my spirit will still go around in short trousers.”


Price: $18.75 USD sometime in 2015.


Market Liquidity: Fortunately not in fashion.

January 27, 2016

Ca’ Rozzeria Barolo, 2010

Who’s opened the 2010 so early? Shurely shome mishtake? Alas, this is not an honorable mention in the Barolo Hall of Fame.

Ca’ Rozzia Barolo. 2010

If you equate rich, tannic, heaviness with Nebbiolo, this will sorely disappoint. If you are just wine curious, this is hugely satisfying. Overtly fruity. Assertively fruity. Think Rip Taylor tossing confetti with his wig just a tad askew. Intensely light and cherry slash currant slash pomegranate fruity. For the life of me I couldn’t place the varietal blind. With four hours air after decanting this was like a New World Pinot Noir. Delicious, yes. Barolo, classic Barolo? No. It was not wrong to open.


Price: A thrifty $19.99 USD before the CAD tanked.


Market Liquidity: When terroir is a bit of a tease.

January 26, 2016

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc, 2013

Not Burrowing Owl’s finest moment. But what a fine bottle. If you can find it.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2013

In restaurants, the Meritage features prominently in the near or plus $100 level. It sets the standard. The CF falls far below, and is less common, but so satisfying nonetheless.


The Merlot is a little slick. I can take it or leave it The Athene, of the BO expensive reds, my go-to, often feels faultless. Reviewers take a hard line on the Athene, but year after year there is some consistency that is almost sentimental. The CF seems to me a wine of many contradictions, directions, nuance and outright mess. But what a gorgeous, attractive and intriguing mess. From cherry to charcoal, from the barn to the orchard, it is sweet and dark, lively and leaden, aggressive and soft.


I drank it first at a Christmas event; thank you Julie for splurging. It spoke to me like a star leading the three wise men. Then I sucked it up and spent over $40 for a bottle. That is too much money. I regret spending the money. But I don’t regret drinking the wine.

Thrift week is over. All hail BC’s ridiculous wine market.

Sometimes complexity is a lot of fun. It’s said that when John Huston was writing the screenplay for The Maltese Falcon, when he ran across some contradictions and holes in the novel, and called Hammett flor clarification, Dashiell was all “well, yes, I know, whatever.” That is this wine, classic without being a classic. I simply wish I could afford it.


Price: The vineyard has it at $33, before all the add-ons. Not so lucky if you live in YVR. Ka-ching.  Try Liberty.


Market Liquidity: It will grow on you. And you’ll be sorry.

January 19, 2016

Maycas del Limari Sumaq Reserva Chardonnay, 2013 & Urban Uco Malbec Tempranillo, 2013

Urban Uco Malbec Tempranillo, 2013Value week on Buyingbcwines: To round off our value wine theme this week we finish with an enormously satisfying Chilean Chardonnay and a critics pick. The Argentinian blend, Malbec-Tempranillo, is an over-90 pointer from Parker, and drinks pretty much the way you’d expect: Fruit heavy, a little leaden, rich and hearty. Personally, I didn’t like it, neither its predictability nor character, it’s 14.5%, a little too heavy on the cigar and without any elegance whatsoever. Too flat on the finish. But that is irrelevant. Most people will like it, like it a lot, as a house wine it could sell like hotcakes, the price is exacetment as the French say. Exactamente I should say. In fact, I’ll set the bar for 2016: Best value red in BC at the price. (Let’s see what happens over the next 11 months.) Comparatively, the local and foreign dross at this price point is suicidally depressing. Ignore my misgivings; dare to compare with your other Tuesday night selections.


Price: A budget conscious $14.99 at BC Liquor (with tax $17.25).


Market Liquidity: Like getting an upgrade at the rental desk from economy to midsize.

Maycas del Limari Sumaq Reserva Chardonnay, 2013

The Maycas del Limari, on the other hand, won’t win awards nor critical favour beyond “good value” and “fresh”, but what a hugely appealing wine that speaks volumes to breaking the Chardonnay norm. Honestly, it was exciting to cork this bargain bottle. Bright to the point of glaring, this is sunshine encapsulated in a bottle, and really reminded us of the Boutari (in terms of its liveliness). There are more tropical tangents than you can imagine, guava, pineapple, passionfruit, than typical stony notes, but a current of oak runs underneath the forward, very forward, fruit. Drinks like a 12 per cent lunch wine. Is not cloying and does not seek to wow.  It’s all enjoyment.  Great to sip, perfect with frittata. And easy to share at the cost.


Price: $21 with tax ($18 before) at Everything Wine or Legacy.


Market Liquidity: Carnival in Rio in a bottle.

January 19, 2016

Edge Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

Value week on Buyingbcwines: For the life of me I couldn’t get a decent picture. This is an online dupe of what I would call a ludicrous label from a Graphics 101 wannabe under cheap contract.

Edge Cabernet Sauvignon

Beyond the inane label is wine: A really impressive (if somewhat predictable) California Cab Sauv. Heavyweight properties (hence Parker’s 91 points) but without the Ridge-like price tag. A forward, fruity (and I think) overly sweet mouthful. Will please most of the people most of the time. Hits of peppercorn and overripe blackberry on the palate. No soft finish.


Price: Under $30 at BCL, over with tax. Given our dollar, good value.


Market Liquidity: Value. Not valuable.

January 19, 2016

Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés, 2013

Value week on Buyingbcwines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris have all had their day—to a point where no one bats an eye when there’s nothing else on offer. Not so Torrontés. Why? Maybe because the low altitude Torrontés common on the BCL shelves is so different from the high altitude? And the latter, more sere, striking and of course rarer, is not what drinkers think of when they think of Torrontés? Does anyone think of Torrontés?


They should think of this especial example from Zuccardi. At the risk of sounding like a ponce, this is both aggressive and seductive. A juicy, grassy, fruit forward wine that evokes Semillon, Sauv Bl and Gewurtz. Absolute pleasure. Gorgeously food friendly. Absolutely unique.  From the high vineyards of Salta.

Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés, 2013

Price: You can still find the 2013 at a few private stores if you’re clever at or around the $20 mark. If you’re not fussy about the year, Everything Wine always has some in stock.


Market Liquidity: Start a trend.

January 18, 2016

Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, 2010

Value week on Buyingbcwines: It starts out crudely, with notes that are very much of the barnyard, wet hay, musky leather. On the palate it transitions to figs, anise, ripe cherry, and softens, Merlot soft, finishing with a peppery bite. A very good sipper for Chianti but with the musculature for a prime rib.  Not a drop was left.


If you can still find the 2010 it’s worth the effort.

Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, 2010

Price: $25 at BC Liquor. Also some private stores near the same price point.


Market Liquidity: Value, and then some.

January 15, 2016

Coffee. Yes coffee.

Coffee MakersIf you think this blog is written by someone obsessed with wine and nothing else, you’d be mistaken. We are well-rounded obsessives. To start 2016 off I thought I’d review the ways we make coffee when we leave town for the weekend. This is not to be mistaken with the Saeco cum Gaggia espresso machine at home (before Saeco was bought by Phillips), the more expensive but less desirable Saeco semi-automatic at work, or the places in the world where coffee is best (I vote first for Australia, with the Italian and Greek communities in Sydney and Melbourne, the hard water, and the whole milk, as finer than anything in Italy, and while we’re at it, the much ignored Arcaffé in Israel who, again, sources and roasts much better than most of the renown European houses, and the list goes on). No, this is the “casual” method for brewing coffee on the weekend.


Not pictured: The burr grinder. Nothing gets brewed without a uniform grind! Super fine for espresso, rough cut for perc.


Far left front: The Handpresso.  It works, it’s not a gimmick, you can actually create an espresso in the wilderness, on a hike, it’s light, there isn’t too much fuss, just the necessity to manually create the pressure using a bicycle pump-like action. You are left with organic pods to dispose of though. While there is something ingenious (and a little phallic) about the device, I have a lighter, less fussy alternative: Instant. Or tea. In other words, the novelty wasn’t worth it from my view.


Left rear: Percolator. Nothing will upset a coffee aficionado more than the mere idea of a percolator. Boiling the water, scorching the coffee, regurgitating the brew, it’s all antithetical to the coffee elite. But there’s something incredibly satisfying about the aroma, it wafts through the cabin then the sliders and across the deck and hunkers down in the forest canopy like a campfire. It’s magic. The stinking hot cup you pour on the deck with a golden eagle passing over, that makes it taste so much better than it’s supposed to. Do I recommend a perc? Never. But even Chartreuse has its utility.


MokaMelitta cone into a thermos. In the winter, or any time it’s cool, and you want to bundle up and drink outside, this is the perfect fix. I’m old enough to remember how Melitta swept across North America in the late sixties and by the mid-70s it was de rigueur to have Melitta cones in four or five shapes and sizes in each house, many with the custom glass pots. For the households that let their perc perc too long, or sit around waiting to be reheated, Melitta transformed homemade coffee overnight. The obsessives have done away with what is in effect a brilliant concept and considered nowadays a touch common. All hail Melitta (in a non-bleached filter of course).


Bialetti Moka stovetop: Do you know how you’re supposed to make coffee in these? How the Italians do it? You boil water. You put boiled water into the bottom, fit the coffee bowl over, screw on the top, then gently heat to get the filtered espresso. Most Canadians put cold water in the bottom, turn up the heat to high, or too high, and wait for the perc. Is the coffee good? Yes. It there enough? Never. Is it the same as a crema espresso from a fully automatic? Not even close.


Starbucks Barista. They got out of this business (which was a subcontract anyway). I was told off the record it was because of theft from stores. Regardless, the thermal pot through a Melitta cone is another way to take hot coffee outdoors for a relaxing breakfast. Push to pour and up to seal does seem counterintuitive though. As drip coffeemakers go, I’ve never found one I like more but drip coffeemakers are never ideal and the fuss of a machine versus the Melitta cone is less than ideal.Barista


Speaking of less than ideal, there is no reason, ever, to drink French press. I am not on the fence; I am anti-FP. Let’s imagine you are staying in a hotel, and they have a French press with, oh, I don’t know, Lavazza coffee, well lucky you, better than those pancake pods that churn out lukewarm pap, but even then, don’t bother. No FP. The coffee will never be hot enough when it’s ready to drink, because the arc of the cool down is directly in opposition to the brew time. The brew will have sediment and your teeth will be left with a nasty paste. It’s a lose, lose, lose proposition.


EsproThen came Espro. Canada takes gold. Overnight the modified FP became the most spectacular way to drink coffee at home. You need to heat the carafe prior, but if you do, no matter what you brew, it is smooth, full bodied and exceptionally aromatic. True, it can’t make magic out of Maxwell House, but it has transformed “regular” beans the way the other machines can’t approach. The double filter reduces all the grit and sediment. The smoothness is evocative of the paleo trend right now to “butter” coffee. The Espro is luscious. Pictured is the medium, the 18 ounce which, were I to do this again, I might supersize. Downside? Expensive. It might be solid state and near indestructible but the pennies per cup cost of a Melitta will, I think, prevent Espro from ever becoming a household name. But if you are willing to shell out, this is tops.