Archive for February, 2016

February 25, 2016

Cave Mont Blanc “La Piagne” 2014

Cave Mont Blanc “Le Piagne” 2014

All wine retailers gush about their stock, but perhaps none moreso than Jon Rimmerman who sends out prosaic emails two or three times a week without a picture and often no third party reviews, to a long list of subscribers who pore over what, in the end, is just a series of flowery adjectives and a string of superlatives; it’s as if Jimmy Fallon is swooning over an A-list celeb (or, on Jon’s worst days, Justin Timberlake impersonating Jimmy Fallon fawning over a celeb). If you Yelp or Google Garagiste (his retail company) you will find that the high level of eagerness to impart this vino passion isn’t always met with gratitude. While I will credit him with bringing wine to the Pacific Northwest that many don’t, won’t or can’t, and certainly here in Canada what is beyond our archaic, anti-wine, Kafkaesque wine bureaucracy, he also misses now and again. This, in my humble opinion, is a big miss. Here’s his missive on the La Paigne:


“It’s all here – the granite of the alps, the Ricola scrub brush and the refreshment of an ice-cold/painfully fresh mountain spring that you can’t wait to dive into. If you are a fan of Belluard, the 2014 Le Piagne does for Prie Blanc what Belluard’s Le Feu did for Gringet… …at $19+. Keep in mind, this is meager production – approximately 2000 bottles were produced of this wine (165-167 cases) from one of the most incredible, steeply terraced vineyards you will ever see (at extreme elevation for wine grapes – in the flank of Mont Blanc). What more can I say? The 2014 Le Piagne is an electric white wine that is not only top-class but it’s also an exhilarating value (if you don’t secure all of it, I’ll keep the rest for my own cellar!)”


Value? Yes. Under $20 US. Electric? Well, anyone remember the Tomy toy Gripidee Gravidee? A space pod that motored horizontally and vertically on a D cell at about .03 mph. (That was, technically, electric, and about as much of shock and awe as this moderately palatable and not very nuanced and instantly forgettalbe flat, dry white.) So was, they say, Robert Redford playing Sonny Steele who, like it or not, was neither electric nor exhilarating, despite the mo. And so it goes.

Grippidee Gravidee

Price: $19.60 USD.


Market Liquidity: Note to Jon: “CAPTAIN Deadpool. …Okay, just, just Deadpool.”

February 24, 2016

Quinta Ferreira Merlot, 2010

Quinta Ferreira Merlot, 2010A crowd pleaser. Not as complex as the reviews might indicate, or the boasts of the vineyard with all sorts of layers and flavours and aromas (on the palate, it flattens out considerably), but definitely supple and soft enough to sip through a whole bottle without noticing the “just shy of” 14% alcohol. I guess with whites everyone knows a Chardonnay and with reds everyone knows a Merlot, and this is all Merlot, so what did I expect, except I guess the same sort of thing that knocks your socks off when you have a striking New World Chardonnay from Ridge or Qupé. Cheaper and better than the oft-coveted Burrowing Owl but, as with many wines south in WA, pales in comparison to Basel Cellars.


Price: $25 at Swirl.


Market Liquidity: A good price for a good wine.

February 20, 2016

Les Faverelles Bourgogne Vezelay, 2014 & Tenuta di Castellaro Pomice de Bianco, 2013

Two sensational examples of terroir. Each so different it’s like two different languages. Wait, that’s exactly it.

Les Faverelles Bourgogne Vezelay, 2014

Yes, terroir as a vino descriptor is overused, but sometimes wine is so evocative of a place that it’s dumbfounding. The Vezelay is light as a feather, apple, crab-apple, pear, brimming with a fruity juicy freshness, it seems the absolute soul of a French country white, the only thing missing is a checkerboard tablecloth. At 12 per cent it was perhaps a tad too easy to drink, but no matter; blind I think even an expert could have mistaken it for something out of Alsace, the delicate delicacy of it as if floating on the palate. I kept thinking of the Roman ruins near St-Rémy-de-Provence, the views of olive trees from Les Baux, the market stalls in Aix. Charm, rapture, grace. Biodynamic to boot.


The Pomice, with a pronounced stony nose so forward you feel knee deep in brambles, positively oozes the Italian coast. In fact, there is something almost briny to the bouquet; grown in lava rock (yes, I kid you not) there is a stony component that is utterly stunning—our first review on the blog of a Carricante (Malvasia blend). Although I’ve never been to Sicily, let alone Lipari, this wine speaks of Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and the soft light of dusk in Puglia in August. It begs to accompany fresh seafood, crusty bread, and grilled asparagus at a village cantina, outdoors. It is meaty but not heavy, layers of minerality, crisp but not sour, and altogether unique. I am now on the hunt from anything grown on Lipari. This was mouth-wateringly good as well a profoundly satisfying.

Tenuta di Castellaro Pomice de Bianco

Price: Both wines were under $20 USD in Seattle and, even with the exchange rate, you couldn’t source a Burgundy under $50 CDN at BC Liquor that could touch the Vezelay. As for the Pomice, Sicilian wines have not been widely embraced in BC; god forbid we ever see wines from a local island off the coast of Sicily proper. Is that taste, affordability, import issues, or some combination?


Market Liquidity: Why wine drinkers drink wine.


Editorial aside: One day, in the future, British Columbians will be able to buy a bottle of, say, Jale Chardonnay. But that someday is not nowadays and while northern Italy crowds the BCL shelves, the south has yet to rise. Cross our fingers it will.

February 19, 2016

Domaine de Cébène Les Bancèls, Coteaux du Languedoc, Faugéres, 2013

Domaine de Cébène Les Bancèls, Coteaux du Languedoc, Faugéres, 2013

At basically the same price point of the Wynns, which we found cookie cutter and predictable, you can get the smooth, velvety texture of a sippable red, if that’s your thing, with the more woodsy, herby notes of a French red that oozes olde worlde charm. Generally, you’ll pay twice as much for Rhone red this palatable. With legs for the cellar, there’s no shame in corking tonight. NB: Afraid of poncey labels?  Don’t be put off by the cryptic label with too many foreign words. Ask BCL staff for the “Faugéres, the Rhone red, with the grey label.”  A favorite over at Decanter, so probably a hard find, but worth it.  And, wait for it: Organic, yes!


Price: $28 at BCL before taxes.


Market Liquidity: An elevated wine at an entry level price.

February 18, 2016

Quinta Ferreira Alagria 2010

Quinta Ferreira Alagria 2010

Good, better, best. Interesting drinking; layers and layers of interesting drinking.  Why didn’t this win the Vancouver Magazine best of rich reds? Availability. You will have to make some effort. Then you will have to consider the passion that went into the blend. Cheers Quinta Ferreira.  Forget the Wynns “best in show” Cabernet Sauvignon, this is much more provocative. A blend with depth and character, we found it hard not to swoon when the label says Okanagan. Really? And get this: For just a few dollars more than the Wynns the bottle is three years older. Gismondi found the 2009 “oxidized” and basically crucified the vintage with a stunningly token score of 84 points. Maybe the 09 was trash, but I’ll tell you the 2010 is opiod addictive.


Price: $30 at Swirl in White Rock.


Market Liquidity: Buck the trend. Go local, in a big way.

February 16, 2016

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 & Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo, 2012

OK, so in keeping with the Vancouver Magazine review theme, see our other comments here, two more reviews which, ultimately, drove us to wines not on the Vancouver Mag list…

Langhe Nebbiolo, Giovanni Rosso, 2012

Langhe Nebbiolo, Giovanni Rosso, 2012

Simply put not worth the price. But quite good (when compared against other Italian reds at BC Liquor). I would say, in my humble opinion, that if you must drink Italian wine in Vancouver, then you’re better off with Chianti, as the range, prices and options are more diverse. If you are buying this thinking you are getting a Barolo, at one-third the price, you are delusional. If you are hoping for something more approachable (young) than a Barbaresco, I’d say this is not Langhe’s finest moment.


For a better description of why you might buy Nebbiolo, see a wonderfully succinct intro article over at the New York Times.


Price: $26.99 (with tax $31.04) at BCL

Market Liquidity: Some of the hits of its tony cousins, but none of the peaks.


Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

So smooth it’s glib. A crowd pleaser if ever there was one, but you won’t catch me lining up for an Apple release, the Star Wars franchise or playoff tix. And that’s all you can really say about this enormously, overwhelmingly populist wine, which drinks like velvet but has nothing memorable to say about itself or the varietal except that it will please in droves. When you’ve bought your Banana Republic jacket, your Club Monaco khakis, your Aldo shoes, your Foot Locker kicks, your Abercrombie underwear, your Fossil watch and want to cap it off in keeping with a generic wine which will offend not a soul, cin cin.

Price $24.99 (with tax $28.74) at BCL

Market Liquidity: Socially acceptable.

February 16, 2016

Blasons de Bourgogne Brut Réserve & Jansz Tasmania, Méthode Tasmanoise

Vancouver magazine publishes a list of the best wines in BC by a panel of experts. Or so the copy reads. It’s a give-away at liquor stores and the wines are all selected based on general availability so the weight, in my mind, is more advertorial and promo, a la the LCBO Food & Drink, than expertly chosen. (Download the great Food & Drink app here!) But whereas Food & Drink has some amazing recipes and great food pairing tips (it is in fact, arguably, the most in demand publication in Ontario, with higher editorial and readership scores than Chatelaine, Toronto Life, Canadian Living or Canadian House and Home. And it’s free too), the Van Mag reviews seem a little arbitrary.


Anyway, we thought we’d focus in February, on an off, with the Vancouver mag “expert” reviews.

Blasons de Bourgogne Brut Réserve

We started with the Blasons, a pretty sensational sparkling, given the price point. Lightly effervescent, much more accomplished than the many dreary Prosecco options at BCL. An honest to god brilliant bubbly for cocktails, with even a drop of Grande Marnier or Campari popping this out of the park. It lacks depth and sits a little one note on the palate but we vote it well worth the extra five dollars over bats piss.

Price: $22.80 (with tax $26.21) at BCL.

Market Liquidity: A fine faux.

The Jansz I had very high hopes for. Sparkling is a way of life in Australia. Even the hard core beer drinkers with their schooners and middys and pots will stop for a toast, be it Seaview or Wolf Blass. But how about something crispy, fruity, lively from the deep south? Unfortunately, this is a bit of a letdown. Hearty but heavy, with too much effervescence and a minerality that overpowers the fruit. It foams up on the palate the way hydrogen peroxide does, has a leaden finish and lacks both the feathery ephemeral fruit of a good prosecco or the luscious creaminess of a good méthode champagne.

Jansz Tasmania, Méthode Tasmanoise

Price: $27.99 (with tax $32.19) at BCL.

Market Liquidity: Very much a sparkling white as opposed to a sparkling.