Archive for October, 2016

October 24, 2016

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth, Hunter Valley Semillon, 2007


Here’s a wild bargoon: Only $20 in the generic BCL aisle, an excellent example of Hunter Valley Sem; a little heavy on the tart, with tinges of apple and pear, particularly that rough skin on a Bosc (which I believe the pointsters say tastes of lanolin, if anyone knows the taste of lanolin), clean and crisp if a tad heavy.  While we like our Sem over here at BBCW, it’s an acquired taste in Canada, if the relative rarity is anything to go by.  And the best are best laid down; witness some spectacular L’Ecole.  So while the snobs are eager to pick up a Sauternes and I have an incredible predilection for white Bordeaux (god forbid you can find it, and afford it), once you get out of France the grape seems to evaporate into the ether.


I was a little non-plussed by the blaring gold medal decals on the side, but still, at this price point, how incredible for the novice to give Sem a whirl and, for the thrift-conscious, how easy on the pocket-book?


Price: $21 before egregious taxes. (Check out the listing on the BCL site.  They have  set the Hunter Valley region, which is in New South Wales northwest of Sydney, as being in Western Australia.  Well, it’s Australia, west of British Columbia.)


Market Liquidity: Like a find at Winners.


October 18, 2016

Culmina R&D Red Blend, 2014


I hereby declare this the best value Okanagan red of 2016.  Period.


We started the blog several years ago with an arbitrary benchmark of $20 on value (because, as recently as three years ago, you could still “score” with $20 and a bit of silver in your pocket afterwards).  A lot has changed (the quality and the prices of BC wines have skyrocketed) and we’ve long let go that $20 means anything in BC except “bottled in BC” and run of the mill dross, but now and again you can still stumble across something that warms your heart, your gut, and fills your mouth with joy.  A reasonably priced bottle of great wine.  And this fits the bill to a tee. There is something just a tad uneven on the palate, the balance between fruit and forest and tannins, but nothing off-putting, nothing abrasive.


As a sipper it comes on smooth and strong and maybe with a stroke of cleverness but it’s all pleasure, only emphasized by the price point.  Buy six for a dinner party, six cases for the wedding.  Oh, and LCBO picked it up for Vintages; not so lucky here at BCL.


Price: $22 before tax (so around $25 all in).


Market Liquidity: You know that Woody Allen joke “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable”?  Well Woody doesn’t drink.

October 18, 2016

La Frenz Merlot, 2011


From the cellar: Found this with some other treasures, bought in 2014, awaiting the day.  It was everything a somewhat aged OK Merlot could and should be, and then some, but overshadowed by how much we liked the Hypothesis last week.  We reviewed a more recent vintage a few months back (which, bizarrely, was apparently cheaper than this), and found it wanting.  But the 2011 is (now) a treasure trove of inky fruit with juicy acids and a really addictive tartness. Quite superb on its own but, hard to believe, wavered with a pumpkin sage risotto.


Price: $28 from the vineyard in 2014 before the tax fiascos.


Market Liquidity: For those with discipline, La Frenz can bring it home.

October 15, 2016

Seven Stones Standing Rock Meritage, 2010 & Celeste Crianza, 2012


We drank the lovely if somewhat forgettable Crianza back to back with a Seven Stones blend.  Not unlike some previous bottles which we’ve never reviewed, the Meritage was enjoyable, imperfect, provocative and spoke of terroir in a way the Similkameen seems to beat out the northern OK year by year.


So how did it play out against the highly prized Crianza, from, and I quote, “the world’s most admired wine brand”?  I think if you don your impartial reviewer hat the Crianza is the better wine.  I give it this: It has fewer flaws.  And who doesn’t like a silky Tempranillo on a miserable autumn night?  But like a high end suit tailored versus an off the rack that fits to a tee, the Meritage just holds your interest more, lingers on the tongue longer, and has a depth of flavour that is both captivating and a little frustrating, a few inches away from being a better blend.  Now the Crainza rolls over the palate like toffee, smooth, a tad gristly, but pffft, it’s thin and ephemeral, and thus the disappointment.


Pricewise, the Crianza comes in at $27 before taxes and the Meritage $35 with taxes, so only a few dollars separate the two on the budget front.  I guess, again, the Crianza is better value, but purely on a subjective level from a very personalized point of view Seven Stones rules.


Market Liquidity: Technically, once you have Robert Parker’s blessing, no market liquidity is required.


October 15, 2016

Quinta do Cardo Reserva, 2011


What we said last year, which you can read here, I would echo again (i.e., the 2011 v. 2010)  but basically, a) not spectacular although interesting and exceptionally drinkable and b) very, very, very good value. (Meaning we still have a few in the cellar to plow through.)


Price: Low 20s depending on where you can source it.


Market Liquidity: The “Robert Parker” gold seal is off-putting, but the wine isn’t.

October 14, 2016

Culmina Hypothesis, 2012

Deeply satisfying.  Extremely nuanced.  Gentle without anything caustic or assertive but luscious and engaging.  Truthfully, I think this sort of refinement, in the BC Okanagan, under $40, is rare, but maybe I just don’t spend enough money trying every bottle of plonk that comes along.  I also think, in the Robert Parker school of thought, this wouldn’t please his palate.  But oooh what a lovely bottle it is my dears.


This was gifted.  I’d actually turned my nose up at the price when I saw it in a private store, but I think anyone with access should get three to six bottles in preparation for the holidays.


One renowned local wine reviewer likened this to Burgundy.  Say whaaaaat?  I’m an amateur, a sap, a wine lover but a wine ignoramus at the same time, I have no pretensions to the Kevin O’Leary school of pretentious wine aficionado-dom and even if I was stinking rich I take the Jacques Pepin view of wine that enjoyment comes before snobbery (he famously gave away, gratis, a bottle of Romanée-Conti!).  However, I know this much: Merlot ain’t never, ever gonna taste like Burgundy Pinot.  And this Merlot dominated blend, smooth as a baby’s bottom, is nearly pitch, it pours like molasses mixed with prunes, look at the picture, dark as tar, whereas Burgundy pours like diluted cherry nectar.  Rant over.


Price: With taxes all in $44 (or $38 on the shelf).  I would argue that it surpasses Osoyoos La Rose and, therefore, is better value.


Market Liquidity: Flat, satin, glossy, bright lights big city, an Okanagan knockout.