Archive for March, 2017

March 30, 2017

Soumah Single Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay, 2015

To call this a disappointment is like saying everything went smoothly at the Oscars.  This is abrasive to the point of being crude.  Any more wood and you could whittle it.


Gismondi loved it; called it tight, driven and focused, and slapped it with 92 points.  I can’t believe we drank the same bottle.  We found it assertively oaken in the most unpleasant fashion imaginable, it tasted almost faux not aged, and the lemon, pith, butter and what seemed like coarse burnt sage, did not have the balance or focus we anticipated.  Think shavings in the woodshop blended with the acid of witch hazel, bottled at $32 before tax.  Yikes.  This ain’t no Margaret River Swaby.


Price: Marked down $4 to $28 before tax and even then it just seemed profligate.


Market Liquidity: Oak dust anyone?

March 29, 2017

Hewitson Miss Harry, 2013

Me lovey.  This starts out without much fanfare, but by the fourth or fifth sip, with a little air, it really starts to pop.  All of a sudden it goes from generic Oz blend to a veritable pantry bursting with fruit, a smoky cedar nuance and a jolt of cracked pepper.  Truly lovely and without the weight or mire of a 14%-er.  Grenache, Mourvedre, Shiraz…, but I think to the average Joe it’s like a Grenache “plus” if you will.


Price: A stunningly affordable $23 all in (in Ontario, alas, not BC.  Thank you Premier Christy Clark for ensuring, facilitating and securing Vancouver as one of the most expensive cities to buy real estate in, to rent in if God forbid you can even find a rental, to eat out in a restaurant where the trade gets no discount on alcohol, to buy gas—40 cents higher than Toronto!, to buy wine, beer or liquor, and of course to get health care, if after the premiums you can even find a GP.)


Market Liquidity: All polish, no spit.

March 28, 2017

GD Vajra Barbera D’Alba, 2013

What a food friendly wine.  When the red becomes soul partner to the dish, a complement to but never overshadowing, a magic happens; it’s like Frosty becoming alive.  Light but not weak.  Unusually restrained for a Barbera, or so we thought, with a delicate cigar leaf and black currant on the palate, finishing with a nuanced tinny note that subsides like ether.  Magic on the tongue.


I discovered Vajra in London (UK) where there is more to choose from without going whole hog Barolo, but I’m grateful that you can even find a wine like this in BC Liquor.  Stock up, if your wine budget allows, it’s a keeper.


Price: A rather steep $33 plus taxes at BC Liquor (even cheaper at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge!).  But, then, the Culmina Hypothesis will be released this year at a monumental $46; pass.


Market Liquidity: Hands down it trumps half of BC’s hearty reds without being particularly hearty.

March 20, 2017

Tiraspol Merlot Red Dry, 2009

Nothing much to review as we’ve mainly been drinking dupes of what’s in the house, most notably the last bottle of the SUPERB 2010 Burrowing Owl Merlot.

Wine from Moldova.  Moldovan wine.  Yes I had to look it up.  Been to Turkey (it’s more or less due north), been to Ukraine (it’s right next door), still wasn’t sure until I looked it up.  Just an inch touches the Baltic.  And, let me say at the start, this was a wild card.  I expected the absolute worst.  But you know what?  A surprise was in order.


Pretty smooth and luscious, although crisper than your average Merlot, with a tad more bite, but opened up beautifully, and halfway through had lovely notes of violet and ripe stone fruit.  This is the sort of wine you need to serve blind and see who can guess what it is and where it’s from.  At eight years old it’s drinking wonderfully.  It’s no “90 pointer” but try finding a palatable 2009 on the liquor store shelves at this price…


Price: A modest and more than respectable $20 at Marquis.


Market Liquidity: There’s a first time for everything.

March 15, 2017

Aquifer Semillon, 2015

Like being stranded in the desert and finding an oasis.  Or stumbling upon a mirage.  It depends on your view.


Strange and unusual and overwhelmingly addictive but in the same breath a little cloying and annoying.


Abrasive minerality, aggressive herbaceous-ness, pronounced acidity.  Steely Chardonnay-esque plonk on the palate.  A long, sour, grassy finish.


All of it enticing, an evocation of terroir, so, so, so not Bordeaux Blanc, but weirdly appealing in a deer in the headlights sort of way.  A cross of medicinal with luxe.


Price $30 at Everything Wine (which is too expensive for the purely adventurous I think but something I will buy again, probably many times over).


Market Liquidity: A diamond in the scrubby rough of tasteless, bland and nondescript Semillon which sinks the BC marketplace.

March 14, 2017

Bodegas Sommos Glárima Blanco Roble, 2014

Extremely aromatic: soft, floral notes, cinnamon and clove, vanilla, guava, pineapple and a menacing minerality.


Although we had no expectations we were hoping for slightly less “fruit affrontry,” a little more acid, and a refreshing zesty finish, not a Jolly Rancher-esque palate blaster.


The Portuguese can pull off pork and clams, the Greek can marry feta on fish, but the Spanish have a long way to go to balance Chardonnay with Gewürztraminer, at least if the Glarima is anything to go by.


Price: A reasonable $20 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: Stale potpourri.

March 7, 2017

Doña Paula Black Edition Estate Red Blend, 2015

Extremely good value.  Not a home-run blend by any stretch, but easily as good (i.e., approachable, food friendly, likeable), as any number of $40-plus BC reds.  Plus you get the red heft of a 14.5% wine at only 14%.


We found it flavourful but a bit flat, I mean if you’re comparing with the finer reds in your cellar; although not layered or wham bam impressive, this is obscenely smooth and ridiculously “sip” friendly, with plum jam on the palate and a slightly tannic but robust earthy finish.  Suckling gave it a monumental 94 points which to us seemed overkill but whatever.  We quaffed this down in 94 minutes.


Price: $24 at Everything Wine.  (Buy a case: 5% discount and free delivery.  Think of the upcoming BBQ season.)


Market Liquidity: The most social red at a reasonable price point we’ve sampled in 2017.

March 6, 2017

King Shaka-Zulu Chenin Blanc, 2015

Pretty good but not pretty great.


Notes of clementine, an unusual and pronounced vanilla, a tangy acidity, refreshing floral herb slash butterfly garden, and a monumental minerality that persists on the palate.  I wouldn’t have guessed this as a Chenin blind but enjoyed it nonetheless.  Was superb with a cheese souffle.  As for Shaka-Zulu, check him out.

At a price point about 30 per cent cheaper, this would be a steal, a deal, a must buy.  Regardless of the pointster’s praise, at $30, it’s not exceptional value.  This bottle reminds me of the gorgeous Springfield Life from Stone which we swooned over in Cape Town at dollars a bottle then sourced it back home in BC at $33 in a private store where, as we emptied out wallet, we sort of lost our appetite and enthusiasm.


Price: $29.95 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: Close but no cigar.

March 2, 2017

Selbach Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett, 2015


A dry, juicy, spare but luxurious Riesling with a touch of Metallica but a lot of Cream, Peaches & Herb and Tangerine Dream.  Another stunning gentle white from Mosel (11.5%) that went with chicken braised in, yes, Riesling, and broiled root vegetables, like waves on the ocean.  We really could not find a food friendly fault.


Price: $29.99 at BC Liquor before taxes (but I should point out you can score this in WA at almost half the price if you scout around).


Market Liquidity: When serendipity meets kismet.