Archive for February, 2017

February 24, 2017

Di Majo Norante Ramitello, 2012


This opens up nicely with pronounced bittersweet chocolate and sour cherry.  Light notes of candied violets.  The final push, a raspberry soda with a woodsy note, is soft and not overwhelming.  Silken on the palate.  Drinks like a well tailored suit.


Over at RA’s Wine Advocate, Monica Larner referred to it as having a sophisticated international style and being “exciting value” from southern Italy.  It is all that and then some.  While we couldn’t quite get the 91 points of the whole enterprise we do say this: BC churns out a wine like this there are seven “very limited” cases at $80 a bottle.  I exaggerate, but you get my drift.  At this price point BC vineyards are selling their “base model” reds that are often bitter and lesser and forgettable.  Plus, why not try something from Abruzzi-Molise?


Price: Regularly a very respectable $24 at BC Liquor, on sale currently at $22.50 but, and I must rub your nose in this, only $19 in Ontario.  We really are the oppressed state Ms. Christy Clark.


Market Liquidity: You’d be hard pressed to serve this at dinner and not please the lot.

February 17, 2017

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011


From the cellar: What’s your desert island wine appellation?  I mean if you had to drink, for the rest of your life, one appellation?  My hunch is most people will pick Bordeaux or Burgundy or Champagne.  For me, it would be a close call between Alsace and Margaret River.  I mean imagine having Leeuwin Estate on a Tuesday, Cape Mentelle on a Wednesday, Cullen on the weekend.  So much heaven in one small haven.


The Xanadu was a special purchase at BC Liquor; I picked up some a few years back to lie down.  This bottle was aching to come out for boeuf en daube on Family Day weekend.  And what a sensational treat.


Coconut.  Seriously.  Coconut and coconut oil.  Sweet overripe plum.  Chocolate, cherry, piquant oak and a bracing pine resin finish that bites then subsides and lingers on a vanilla note to infinity.  Sorry to exaggerate but it was really just that good.  Highly, highly recommended.  This is an ooh la la red.


Price: A mere $25 back at the beginning of 2015.  I wish I got a case.  You can find the 2013 in private shops currently around $30.


Market Liquidity: Wine turducken: A Pinot wrapped in a Merlot wrapped in a Syrah.

February 16, 2017

Sierra Cantabria Rioja, 2011


Ever taste wine with friends, take notes, compare them, and find that what one person found heavy and tannic another found fruity and light?  Or, more typically, buy wine specifically because of the reviewer’s blurb—only to be wholly let down?  This is that experience in a nutshell.


Here’s the professional review: “…dense, rich red cherry and liquorice aromas…sour cherry, coffee and nutmeg notes and the oak is fully integrated.”


We just couldn’t get past the flatness of it, the one note, a very tepid Tempranillo, immediately forgettable.  Not cheap either.  And this was after our splurge on D’Orrance a few weeks back based on a stellar review which was a match made in heaven.  So it goes.


Price: $30 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: Hugh Johnson called Sierra Cantabria “drinkable and good” and I’ll give it that.

February 14, 2017

Blue Mountain Reserve Brut, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day



An explosion of flavour.  This is to the base BM fizz (aka Gold Label) what the hydrogen bomb is to the atom bomb.


Hearty and full, there is nothing ethereal.  Probably the most assertive BC sparkler I’ve ever tasted.  It could be food.  A wonderful Pinot/Chardonnay blend.


Gentle effervescence, pronounced tart apple, Asian pear, almond skin, and an acidic piquancy like lemon meringue pie.  Scrumptious.


Price: Just over $30 as part of a three bottle vintage sampler from the vineyard which was, all in, including shipping and tax, $100, but you can source it at around $42 in private shops..


Market Liquidity: The soul of the south Okanagan.

February 11, 2017

D’Orrance Chenin Blanc KAMA, 2012





If you splurge once in a while on a wine simply because of critical praise, and then are disappointed, I hear your pain. Amen brother. We need to forge a twelve step critical disappointment program. But sometimes you dig deep into the wine budget and it pays off big time. Case in point this elegant, eloquent, Chenin that was like an encased jewel box, that just needed dusting off to show all it’s colour and dimension.


Of course Chenin is not to everyone’s taste; even in France, Loire whites are not as ubiquitous in the corner wine store as you’d expect. In South Africa, where they blossom, BC rarely gets an opp to experiment (it’s Bellingham and then things hit a chasm). But we sourced this bottle at Everything Wine and were suitably impressed. Five year old luxe white for around $40; sounds expensive but really that’s a bargoon considering the lay away.


Ludicrously delicious. A golden shimmer in the glass, toffee, apple, honey and honeydew hits the palate along with an oily nuttiness and some lighter minerality. Acidity that is pure pleasure. It is exquisite in its complexity and hugely intriguing. I have some Neem honey from the Himalayas and that sweet, blossom, funkiness is also in this wine. The oak is almost transparent (thankfully); in fact the oak is umami.


Price: Expensive in BC; a very unfortunate $43 at Everything Wine (but keep in mind this is the 2012, not the 2014). The 2014 is available in Saskatchewan for $23. That is plainly extraordinary value.


Market Liquidity: Controlled delirium if such a thing is possible.

February 10, 2017

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc, 2012

Fondue Party!

Fondue Party!

Bought a bottle for a fondue party but it was trumped by Champagne. How insulting! Still, unless you’re royalty, the Champagne runs out. So after dinner we drank the Pinot Blanc.


I was immediately hypnotized by the depth and layers of flavour, the fruit (it had high notes of pear and apple and low notes of quince) and stone and light vivacity of it. But after a few bottles of Champagne, was that just the Piper, Mumm and Moet talking?


We opened a second bottle a few nights later to accompany fish pie. And here the wine was exceptionally complementary but I must admit a little less multi-dimensional. It had much stronger notes of flint and hints of pear and less of the layered intricacies we thought were so prominent the first time, with a strong acidic flourish. It’s rated at the liquor store as a “00” but we found the residual sugar a little higher. Still, if you can score something from Alsace, you score something from Alsace, and this is a delectable incredibly food friendly white at a decent alcohol volume. Too bad you don’t see it on local wine lists.


Price: $27.99 at BC Liquor. Last time I checked it was available, province wide, in five locations. That is the proverbial Donald Trump sad.


Market Liquidity: Hard to resist.


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February 9, 2017

Joie Gamay, 2014


I’ve always thought of Gamay as the poor man’s Pinot—and not in a bad way, in a way to access light, fruity wines that can surprise much more often than similarly priced Pinots. The Joie doesn’t disappoint.


Sour cherry, rose petals, violet, vanilla and a finish that echoes a black currant pastille. Plus, take a close look at the label: 12.6% is not a type. Er, I mean typo.  How heavenly is that? A Wine Align award winner, so not the easiest to source, but definitely a plus if you’re seeking a gentle, flavourful red for many of the delicate fusion style dishes of the Pacific Northwest.


Price: $24 at Swirl in Yaletown.


Market Liquidity: Light, lively, pleasant, pleasing.

February 7, 2017

Seven Stones Row 128 Merlot, 2012

There she is, empty, en route to recycling...

There she is, empty, en route to recycling…


“My heart grew tipsy in me…my sweet embraceable you.”


Lord what a lovely Merlot.  This gorgeous red curls up on your tongue, lights a fire, and settles in for the night.  It has more seasoning and crispness than your regular run of the mill glossy Merlot, less cloying perfume but no less complexity or flavour.


Cherry cola, dried fruits a la light fruitcake, a toxically appealing nose, a sharp clove slash cinnamon finish.  Good as a sipper, great with dinner.  Wow.


Price: $30 at the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: To quote more contemporary lyrics, “another day of sunshine.”

February 6, 2017

Finca 10 Rioja, 2014


The epitome of cheap and cheerful.  A wonderful Wednesday red.  Fruity, approachable, marginally tannic.  Maraschino syrup against a light peppery bite; think grenadine mixed with Chartreuse.  No weight, feather light for a Tempranillo, and as weak on the nose as the palate and the finish.  But food friendly in a big way and welcome (and warming) during this incredibly long and frigid winter.


Price: Regularly $16.99, but on sale at Everything Wine for an astonishing $12.99.  Thanks you EW.


Market Liquidity: A bird in the hand.

February 6, 2017

Proyecto La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo, 2014


Highly recommended by the wine store staff, hugely disappointing at the dinner table.  Which is too bad because, generally speaking, Spanish Grenache (Garnacha) is among the most reasonable of reds, price wise, in the province.


Fermented raspberry juice with  a tart cherry top note and a smoky finish which we found not remotely appealing.  A recommended red at a pretty reasonable price it was juicy without complexity and full bodied without interest.  There was an unevenness on the palate, flesh, skin, pith of the fruit, sweet and sour, and, to top it off, awkward with food.


Price: A reasonable $22 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: Win some, lose some.