Archive for January 31st, 2017

January 31, 2017

Culmina Dilemma, 2014


The tasting notes on this whet the appetite.  I quote the vineyard: “An elegant Chardonnay, Dilemma shows enticing aromas of nectarine, lemon curd, hazelnut, and subtle clove spice. Delicate white floral and subtle French oak flavours lead to a concentrated, mineral mid-palate, taut with crunchy acidity and fresh melon fruit. Generous yet classically structured, the finish lingers long on the palate.”


While on the one hand I don’t disagree with any of that, I simply anticipated more: Indeed, if you’d read the myriad reviews and over the top points, you would too.  And, in the end, at the price, it undelivered, if you will.


In terms of their notes, a translation might be smooth criss-crossed with acidic gives way to a woodsy funk, finishing with a long and quite luscious buttery mineral note.  I couldn’t place the labyrinth of flavours they described.  We found it a little stark chill, and, as it warmed, it didn’t open up substantially.  On the plus side it’s an unassuming (or, as the profs put it, elegant) Chardonnay without the affront of most new world whites.  I’m torn.  Lawrason’s recommendation to leave it another year is probably advice well given and poorly heeded on our part.


Price: $34 at the vineyard, substantially more in YVR shops, if indeed you can find it.


Market Liquidity: Sort of a B plus from an A student.

January 31, 2017

Van Westen Vineyards V, 2010


From the cellar: At the beginning of 2016, when Swirl in White Rock began to clear out their stock in advance of being sold to Jimmy Pattison, you could pick up some deals if your purchase was six or 12.  This Bordeaux blend spoke to me, or at least the discount did, and I laid it down.  A year passed by and we decided to uncork it.


Ever read something really impressive but find it dull?  Or see a movie that was exceptionally profound but ultimately a bit didactic?  This wine, this very, very, very good red, is a little bit like that.  Sincere, bold, brazen, but also not that appealing (and here I’m thinking of Ridge, where wine is both austere and cozy in one small sip).


As a drinkable wine I think the worst thing I can say about the V is that it has my most hated wine peeve: A wax seal over the cork.  Chip, crack, wax all over.  But once you pout it, well it really is in many ways a deep and mysterious Bordeaux blend, sort of like a chess set, with subtleties and nuances buttressed up against heavy notes of charcoal, prunes, spice cabinet.  We could not abide some of the descriptors on the label (mulberry pie? dusty cocoa?) but found it suitably complex.


Despite its majesty and enormous palatability, and oh-my-gosh was this food friendly (with a Tom Kerridge lamb stew) it somehow ended up being too much bravura and not enough warmth.  Think of the frosty demeanor of lord of the manor.


Price: $38 retail last year, before a 15% discount.


Market Liquidity: It’s the king, queen, rook, bishop, knight and pawn.  It’s just not all of those things in a linear, hierarchical fashion.