Archive for July, 2017

July 24, 2017

CVNE Rioja Reserva, 2012 & CVNE Rioja Crianza, 2012

The best tasting, best drinking red wine in its class, the best red wine under $40 in BC, period.  And, I might add, much better than many BC reds up to half the price more.  We have held off posting until assured there was no more to be found in the Lower Mainland.  Joking.  Half joking.

 

Marquis had a superb pre-offer at, with tax, $25 for the Crianza and $36 for the reserve.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  Marquis was sold out.  We sourced it at Everything Wine.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  EW was sold out.  We sourced it at Kits Wine Cellar.  We bought a lot.  We went back for more.  KWC was sold out.

 

On the plus side, maybe we were the only ones smart enough to buy up this wine?  I don’t think I’ve drunk, and stashed away, so much of one bottle as I have of this year’s CVNE release.  (The Monopole was similarly outstanding if slightly less impressive.)

 

These reds are the most comforting, smooth, rich and concentrated blends you can get at such a reasonable price point.  But price be damned, they are just really good tempranillos.  The Wine Spectator said the Reserva has depth and intensity and gave it 93 points.  (Can you imagine a BC red getting 93 points and going on sale for less than $40?).  That’s a fair summation.  But it’s also just plain likable in the most approachable and delectable way.  As you can see from the group picture, we simply can’t get enough.

 

The Crianza is, yes, lesser, but only by a margin so slim it could be a BC election; and what a wonderful sipper still, and just gorgeous to share at dinner without breaking the bank.  The WS gave it 91 points.  And in Ontario you can buy it with change from a $20.  In BC we have to cough up more and it sells out quicker but let’s give a shout out to Rioja.

 

Price: See above.

 

Market Liquidity: These Riojas remind me of that Hugh Johnson quote that wine is a marriage of nature and aesthetics.  To which I think he meant what is real and beautiful.  Because these babies are real beautiful.

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July 21, 2017

Domaine de la Mordorée Lirac, Cuvee La Reine des Bois, 2015

We were looking for a celebratory bottle of white, something that said “just bought a car” as well as “probably the last new car I’ll ever buy” as well as “debt, here I come.”  But it’s summer and we were having sockeye to mark the occasion, which has just arrived fresh in the shops; red was wrong and bubbly seemed misguided.  A few weeks back we sampled a glass of this Lirac ($21 per!) at Botanist; so, with effort, we sourced a private shop.  But I should add this: Kudos to Botanist for having such interesting wines by the glass.

 

You will not get change for a 50 after tax.  Less than Champagne, and while we’re at it, actually less than Invictus or Icon or Quintessential or any number of top tier BC wines, this was still pricey, yet worth every penny to the last drop.  The sense of terroir, a term we are loathe to use, is omnipresent and omniscient.  It has layers of deep flavour, scents and sensation.  The clover meets hay meets wildflowers meets honey meets dewy grass and moist soil with a lush mead-y finish.  A blend, but mostly white Grenache, this wine is nothing if not spectacular.

 

Price: You can source it for under $50 before extras, and hopefully add it to a case for a discount, at local private shop.  But it’s certainly not common in BC.

 

Market Liquidity: Better than two bottles of that insipid Mirabeau.

If it was legal in BC, we’d take this on a picnic, as if in an Eric Rohmer movie amongst the Monarch butterflies…

July 19, 2017

ColleStefano Verdicchio de Matelica, 2015

Colossally satisfying.  This isn’t your classic verdhicchio in a fish shaped bottle.  It’s hard to find (in Vancouver), reasonably priced (all things considered BC-wise), ridiculously food friendly, and just good drinking.  Organic to boot.

 

There is something Orange Julius peach fuzz Creamsicle about it, with an oily nuttiness underlying the stone fruit.  It has gobs of flavour without being cloying.  Decanter listed it as one of their top verdicchios; we couldn’t agree more.

 

Price: Around $30 in private wine shops, give or take; if you’re smart, you’ll shop where they discount on bottles of six, and you’ll get six.  You won’t be sorry.

 

Market Liquidity: Just make the effort to find it.  It’s all reward.

July 17, 2017

Castel Del Monte Tormaresca Trentangeli, 2014

Puglia, down in the boot, produces some lively wine, without the heft of Tuscany (meaning price tag).  We are very fortunate that here in BC the Liquor Board stocks an enormously appealing and not too expensive red which is not only delectable but organic and can be sourced across the province.

 

This is an ideal red for the patio, for the BBQ, for sipping and eating and socializing.  It’s not top of the game, it’s no Brunello, on the palate it lacks, but the finish is all love, joyously generous, and in a group you can drink three bottles for under $75.  That is, unless you order it in a restaurant, where it will run you an exorbitant $55 or more.

 

It’s in Smithers, it’s in Stewart; it’s in Kaslo it’s in Fruitvale.  I think the Italians would approve.  And I believe it’s worth more, all things considered, than the 89 points Gismondi gave it.

 

Price: $19.50 at BC Liquor before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: I think if socialist filmmaker Ken Loach gave his seal of approval to wine he’d give this a gold star.

July 15, 2017

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette, 2015

Superb.  Despite the expense.  Dreamy in its silkiness and so refined against the many Oz Shiraz-zzz on the BC Liquor shelves.  Berry beautiful.  A sweet raspberry toppled by a more acidic black currant and a hint of maraschino.  Great as a sipper, not too bad with food, generous on the finish like a much more refined red blend from, yes, France.  Too bad about the price tag.

 

Gismondi loved it, Lawrason loved it, they all loved it and so will you if you can get your hands on some and if your pocketbook affords.  Reviewers bent towards the floral perfume of it, but we found on the palate that it definitely went deeper into an earthier realm.

 

Price: A little on the rare side in YVR.  Varies at the private wine stores but after tax you will not get much back from $40.

 

Market Liquidity: Think of the petite exquisite beauty of wild flowers on a wet alpine meadow.

July 12, 2017

Pure Mirabeau en Provence Rosé, 2015

Boring and banal.  But Anthony Gismondi gave it 90 points so, yes, I sourced it (at $30 before taxes!) and gave it a go.  And I guess Gismondi was obligated because Robert Parker also found it “excessively” drinkable.  I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy sets up the football: Each summer Gismondi gives a rosé a high point score and each summer I source it and each summer I’m suckered.  Look at the pic: I bought not one but two!  Who knows how rich I might be if I’d invested in lottery tickets instead?  At least there is the “hope” that comes with a lottery ticket.

 

This wine, in our opinion, is a veritable disaster.  Any thinner and it would be admitted to a medical clinic  for anorexia.  It’s pale to look at, plain on the palate, innocuous on the finish.  And here’s the extra special rub: BC has some of the finest pinot gris (or pinot grigio, our vintners can’t make up their minds) on the planet.  From A to Z.  We’ve reviewed a bunch.  The Sea Star is sensationally interesting, layers of depth.  The La Stella is a crowd favorite, what a mouthful of delight.  The Blue Mountain is ridiculously inexpensive and of especial value.  The Nichol we blow hot and cold on, but this year we really took to it, and even when we don’t it towers over the Mirabeau.  Even the Tinhorn Creek has won us over.  Why with this abundance of patio friendly, light and lovely and diverse PGs should we even bother with rosé?  Beats me.

 

Next.

 

Price: $29.99 before tax at BC Liquor (and hard to source at that).

 

Market Liquidity: This is to a decent bottle of wine what a Christmas panto is to Shakespeare.

July 10, 2017

Seven Stones Speaking Rock Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012

A big and brash if not charming red with the heft for something substantial, say a bloody T-bone or a medium rare rack of lamb.

 

Cocoa nibs, licorice, Ribena, assertive tannins and a bracing coconut-tanning lotion finish. This is a wine with some serious legs (Ginger Rogers meets Cyd Charisse for a threesome with Fred Astaire) and, for those who don’t like the ethereal nimbleness of a fine Pinot, a wonderful counterpoint.  As much as we liked it, there were times we pictured a mallet falling on Wile E Coyote’s head.

 

Price: $35 at the vineyard in 2016.

 

Market Liquidity: If you dug it out of a peat bog in 2030 it would probably still charm.

July 6, 2017

Domaine de la Graveirette Vaucluse Mus C, 2013

Our swooning review of the 2012 is here. We went a little ga-ga. Our opinion hasn’t altered: When you want a decent glass of red with pizza, with pasta in a tomato sauce, with a frittata, whenever you want a decent glass of red and don’t want to open a heavyweight because the food is likely going to grandstand, your BC Liquor choices are rather dire. You can either go with a new world cheapie, probably a Malbec that is so young it tastes like a greasy wheel, or a “bottled in BC” special, with a modulated flavour profile so chemical you could be drinking tap water in Flint. But what a treat if you could pick up something like the Mus C.

 

Welcome this ever dependable “villages” style Rhone red. My god is it versatile. It’s luscious and forward, more hay and fresh cut grass than most are prepared for (and, if online reviews are anything to go by, “too much dust” for which I beg to differ, that is just typical of Grenache), but it’s also smooth and luxe and “berry-liscious” for the price. Best of all, this is table wine, pure and simple, of the first order. There is nothing, and I repeat nothing, in BC at this price point that could hold a candle; BC vintners are so focused on their heavyweight reds they seem to have forgotten the masses who like a glass with dinner.

 

In respect to food this has the flexibility of Nadia Comaneci, is as complementary as Seth was to Amy, and is as brazen as a Marvel superhero. It really is one of the finest “cheap” reds I’ve ever had the privilege to get change for on a $20 bill.

 

Price: Not available in Canada, which is criminal, but between $10-13 USD in Washington, and a perennial favorite for Jon Rimmerman’s Garagiste clients.

 

Market Liquidity: I think de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo would find nothing but joy. We did.