Archive for September, 2016

September 28, 2016

Sea Star Vineyards Stella Maris, 2015


The last of several reviews on and about Sea Star (see the Salish Sea here, the Siegerrebe here, the Poetry and Prose here).  It’s beginning to look like a paid consultancy.  Why, however, I don’t see reviews or find Sea Star wines on any local wine lists or even see it in private wine stores is a mystery.  The Siegerrebe (a gewurtz dominated blend) is probably the crowd favorite, but I feel the best of the vineyard is the Stella Maris, a marriage of the fruit bowl with the spice cupboard, dry and delicious and incomparably “BC” if you know what I mean.  Why pay three times the price for wannabe reds from Le Vieux Pin?


On their website, Sea Star describes this wine as dry and crisp with a polished finish.  It is that and then some.


This is the thing: That is truth in advertising.  That is not a bottle promo like so much Oz hokum.  This is a light, enjoyable, social wine, enormously food friendly and low alcohol.  It may not speak to Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it would do well as a house wine at Bao Bei, Anh and Chi, Chau, Zest, Hapa Izakaya, heck any number of YVR fusion restaurants.  There is a beer renaissance in Vancouver; maybe one day there will be a wine renaissance, and small vineyards with a sense of terroir will marry tried and true with something novel and we’ll stop trying to compete with Bordeaux futures.  Sigh…


Price: Just over $20 at the Saturna General Store.


Market Liquidity: Jurgen Gothe would have loved it, may he rest in peace.

September 27, 2016

Roche Pinot Gris, 2014


Gismondi had fair praise for this.  Floral without too much fruit.  I agree that it’s different than your typical BC Pinot Gris, and interesting at that.  But the attack is something of an affront on the palate with an antiseptic jolt that is not as food friendly as you’d expect; he recommended halibut and with the cost of halibut I’d recommend something safer or, if you must go esoteric, an Alsatian Sparr.  The finish, well, that’s something to write home about.  It lingers on the tongue longer than Barbra Streisand has been in retirement.  Gismondi liked the absence of PG’s omnipresent honey, but in the end, you are still stuck with the nectar, although with much more complexity than the run of the mill stuff at BCL.  Full points for difference, ho-hum on a repeat buy.


Price: $29 or $4 more than the winery at a private YVR shop.


Market Liquidity: More a curiosity than captivating.

September 26, 2016

Zenato Amarone Valpolicella Classico, 2006


From the cellar: Spectacularly good.  Ludicrously alcoholic.


If you are a disciple of the Revered One, aka Mr Parker, then you’ll know how it goes with his points, the higher the points the more alike the wines seem to be.  In fact, so many decades into drinking his selections, it’s as though he has a nose for only one type of red.  And this, you might say, typifies his passion.


Fruity fruit fruit, juicy plummy soft and jammy ripe, cedar shavings with a hint of clove and the aroma of your spice cabinet, so smooth it could be fondant, luxurious on the tongue, but with a faint and fading finish, a minor let down.  It drinks so beautifully it was sinful to do anything but sip.  Very, very slowly.


What’s brilliant about this wine is that all too often we end up drinking young, inconsequential Valpolicella, with pizza or pasta, but the artistry in this bottle puts the plonk to shame.  Ten years on and I could have left it lying down for another ten.  A real treat.


Having said all that, there is a catch.  There’s always a catch.  What’s the catch?  It’s a tad alcoholic.  Oh, of course.  With 95 points from the Wine Advocate, it will be at least 14 per cent.  At least.  Is it more?  Yes.  Guess.  14.5 per cent?  More.  15 per cent?  More.  15.5 per cent?  More.  Not 16 per cent?  No. Not 16 per cent.  It is, wait for it, 16.5 per cent.  16.5 friggin’ per cent!


Price: When it was purchased or exactly where I don’t know but I did save a blurb noting it was discounted from $60 to $50, and this would have been back when taxes were included.  I might have even picked it up in Toronto as the LCBO carried it; for a wine of this calibre great value, especially for those inclined to get very drunk very quickly.


Market Liquidity: So, basically, fortified wine…


September 16, 2016

Avancé Pinot Noir, 2013


Tasmania rocks.  Not your soft-spoken Okanagan Pinot.  No masquerade trying to fake Burgundy.  A luxurious, athletic, full-bodied Pinot, boasting licorice, cherry, menthol, with a finish that is smooth to sleek, if a tad alcoholic three years in.  Pure pleasure.  Hic.


Price: $23.60 USD in Seattle and impossible to source in BC.  (Go to BC Liquor and search “Tasmania” and get ready to view, wait for it, all five wines.  Sad.)


Market Liquidity: No faux.

September 15, 2016

Sea Star Salish Sea, 2015


Of the three Sea Star whites we pick up on a regular basis this is the least of my favorites yet it’s still more than palatable.  A bit too light for my liking outside of a patio quaff, it is in fact a versatile food wine and much friendlier to the diversity of West Coast cuisine than half of the Okanagan.  Rich, fruity flavours that bring on memories of the Fruit Loops Toucan, pear, apple, even kumquat, and a little of the Del Monte fruit salad cups.  At a mere 12% you can imbibe openly at lunch and still be productive mid-afternoon!  Amazing what can be done on Pender Island.


Price: Around $20.


Market Liquidity: The no pretense white.

September 7, 2016

Sea Star Prose, 2014


There was a lot of wine on offer during the last “official” week of summer.  Most of it neither here nor there.  A 2009 Priorat that Robert Parker claimed could be drunk over the next 15-20 years was corked.  A CdR Sablet that Gismondi had recommended for the cellar through 2020 was mediocre.  A cheap red from the OK crush pad was character-free but enormously quaffable.  The star of the lot for me was a dessert beverage from Pender Island.


Sea Star turns out some exceptional, light, aromatic whites.  We’ll review a couple next week.  Hard to find, but inexpensive and easy to drink, they show what can be done in earnest, as opposed to ego.  They sell two dessert wines, one a Riesling paired with apple, the Prose, and another which is Foch, Pinot Noir and berries, which they call Poetry.


I’ll be blunt: The Poetry is a disaster like, I hasten to add, so much modern poetry.  There’s an American “conceptual” poet called Kenneth Goldsmith who originated “uncreative” writing including an art installation of every word he said for a week, and who has stated he never suffers from writer’s block because there’s always something to copy.  In other words, insufferable.  Sea Star Poetry drinks like your neighbour’s kit wine club plonk which they bottle at $4 per plus supplies.  Alcoholic, forward, blatantly berry, and not unlike any number of bottled fruit beverages they serve on ice with a cherry instead of ale.


Which is to say, that’s too bad, because the Prose is something to be savored.  It sails in the direction of Sauternes, shy of course, but still with that full fruit of apple, stone, kiwi, lingers on the tongue (but not long enough), and is will suited to not just cheese (thank God) but actual honest to god desserts.  Expensive ($21 for the half) but a wonderful BC antidote to the Port wannabes, such as Black Sage’s Pipe, et. al.


Price: $21 at the Saturna General Store (!).


Market Liquidity: Sometimes good things come in small packages.