Archive for August, 2017

August 29, 2017

Errazuriz Aconcagua Alto Carmenere, 2014

Sweet.  In all its meaning: As in good wine, as in good price, as in a tad too much residual sugar.  Now of course this is a dry wine with low residual sugar and it’s purely perception and barreling that throws the harmony of it all, but it does sit on the tongue with a somewhat cloying black currant finish.  But it is astonishingly good value and enormously approachable; a little less of the spice and pepper you might expect in Carmenere and a little more of the violet and rosewater you might get in Merlot, but at the price it’s worth a case.

 

The back history of Carmenere is interesting, if you have the inclination to Google it, because post-Phylloxera there’s virtually none left planted in Bordeaux.  And Aconcagua is (if you’re ever in Chile) a beautiful if remote valley (north of Santiago) that produces some interesting high altitude wines and worth the minor trek.

 

Price: $20, give or take, at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: This is what Decanter calls a weekday wine but which we call a stupendous value.

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August 23, 2017

Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Like a Jamaican steel drum band; it really is that assertive. Without any of the dry hay or dewy green of New Zealand classics, and zero oak.  A really appealing floral nose belies a spicy, acidic and invigorating flourish on the palate.  Tangy, zesty, piquant finish.

 

Although there’s no oak, the malolactic fermentation gives it a funky charge that is either greatly appealing (us) or not what you’re expecting (probably a lot of New Zealand SB purists).  Gismondi said this should “scare the Kiwis” and gave it a 90 point nod but I think for $10 less the masses will likely stick with Brancott, and be happy with that decision.

 

Price: The 2015 is out, $25 at the vineyard, but you can source the enormously drinkable last year’s vintage for $27.75, before taxes, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Oak shmoak.

August 21, 2017

Raats Original Chenin Blanc, 2014

Depending on whom you rely on for points accountability, this is anywhere between an 88 and 92 pointer, with the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator at opposite ends of the spectrum and Tanzer in between.  Which underscores more about how people think of Chenin Blanc than perhaps the subjective nature of wine scores.

 

It is indeed good, a refreshing and zesty lightly acidic Chenin with a dry forest floor note and some gobs of summer stone fruit.  We got the lime but not the pineapple.  It’s a patio sipper par excellence but a little weak at keeping up with rich foods (and I’m including creamy cheeses).  At the price point we are much more likely to spend less on the Mulderbosch and enjoy it more or spend more on the D’Orrance and wish we’d won the lottery.  It would be hard to weigh in on this as enthusiastically as some pros have.

 

Price: $21.85 in Saskatchewan but, wait for it, $33.50 before taxes at private wine stores in Vancouver.  Seriously.  When the mayor proclaims that Vancouver is on schedule to be the greenest city on the planet all I can think of is the greenback, not the solar panels, bike lanes, and lack of access to natural gas.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s a 92 pointer at $22 and an 88 pointer at $34.

August 19, 2017

Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Reserve, 2013

Heavy and hefty and archetypally Californian if indeed a good BC Chardonnay is supposed to mimic those further south.  A bit too crash and burn for us, with as much subtlety as a misspelled tweet from the current POTUS.  Oak and apple, vanilla and crab-apple, and oak.  Did I mention the oak?

 

On the one hand it is spectacularly good, if you’re looking for one specific type of Chardonnay, and it speaks to how very far BC mainstream varietals have come.  On the other hand, there are no surprises or even nuances of terroir that speak of BC the way, e.g., the Culmina GV does.  Probably very pleasing to most of the people most of the time.

 

Price: This is apparently a winery direct bottle but we picked it up on Salt Spring island for $33, $4 over the winery price, before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Short on subtlety but lots of splash.

August 18, 2017

Terra Vista Figaro, 2012

We’ve never bought the Figaro based solely on the label, which to date has been a bit too playful in a Roberto Benigni jumping up and down at the Oscars way.  The 2015 is on the shelves (with a more sober, less antic label design than the one pictured here) and good reviews from Gismondi.  But in our never-ending pursuit of something interesting we stumbled across the 2012, a bit dusty, on a back shelf in a small indie.  Would it still hold up?

 

The 2012 was a combination Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne; the 2015 nixes the Marsanne.  It was still beyond palatable with delightful tropical notes and a steely patch reminiscent of Semillon.  It held up superbly with white meats and even cut through the acid of tomatoes.  It came alive with a bit of air and warmth, oozing peach and nectarine and apricot.  Something of a find, I must say, and worth exploring the current vintage.

 

Price: $23 in a private wine store.

 

Market Liquidity: Not that it matters, the 2012 is long gone, but testament to the old adage that perseverance furthers.

August 18, 2017

Foradori Teroldego, 2013

First time ever we’ve blogged about a Teroldego.  Probably have had some in one of our many trips to Italy but don’t recall.

 

Overripe plum (in a juicy, appetizing sense), un-hulled strawberries (in a not so perfect balance sense), a smoky medicinal top note (in an interesting and provocative sense) and a striking acidity on the finish (in a palate cleansing red meat sense).  We found it exceptionally good drinking in that curious unusual out of the ordinary way you do when testing a new varietal.  But, honestly, we didn’t think it was quite as great as the generous lauds its picked up globally.  Maybe one of the most interesting and unusual reds readily available at BC Liquor?  Enormously food friendly; not your go-to sipper.

 

Price: $34 at BCL before the extras.  And kudos to BCL for having it on the shelves in the first place.

 

Market Liquidity: Delectable in a deer in the headlights sort of way.

August 15, 2017

Sea Star Ortega, 2016

Yesterday we blogged about an overpriced red.  Today we’re posting about a reasonably priced white.  Ah Sea Star.  Ooh la la.  We have blogged pretty much the entire vineyard and gone ga ga over most of the bottles but now it’s time to part: Sea Star has become too popular.  You simply can’t get a hold of it.  Unless you’re in a restaurant.

 

Luckily, at one of the lesser known cafes in the province, on Saturna Island, chef Hubertus Surm serves a beautiful dinner Saturday nights where he stocks a La Frenz red and a Sea Star white; it’s one or the other or go dry.  That pretty much sums up, in a vinous sense, the southern Gulf Islands in a sentence, LF and SS.

 

A Siegerrebe Muller-Thurgau blend, the Ortega is definitely the most perfumed and aromatic of Sea Star’s table whites.  There are potent honeyed notes with distinct herbal tangents, like oregano in bloom and a whiff of lavender.  The mouth is gorgeously full and overall the wine is superbly food friendly.  Schreiner (and a few others online) write of the grapefruit, but I found the acidity smooth and the citrus gentler, like ugli fruit or tangelo.  There is a linear infusion of tropical flavours, pineapple guava punch, and a long finish.  As we say over and over again about Sea Star, they are producing the right white wines for the climate and soil and they are doing a helluva job.

 

Price: $20 at the vineyard, $30 at the Saturna café (kudos to the SC for a less than 100% markup).

 

Market Liquidity: What joy to drink a drinkable local wine at a decent price.  Hallelujah.

Chef Hubertus Surm turns out a beautiful summer salad at the Saturna Cafe

August 10, 2017

Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir, 2013

We started off the mid-summer August long weekend with our last bottle of this spectacular Pouilly-Fuisse.  Then we turned to a local red, which I initially found egotistical and with an inflated sense of self (i.e., too much praise in the wine press) but have developed a particular fondness for.  Still, it hit the local shops three years ago at $35 and each vintage it creeps up in price yet more; I wholeheartedly feel it’s too expensive for what it is.  So I’ve made it a “gift list” wine.

 

Not to be confused with the white label (bleachh) or the Waters & Banks, the Canyonview is (in my opinion) the benchmark for Haywire, and their PN this time round is a particular gem: Light, paper thin, ethereal, juicy, slight but not innocuous, it isn’t especially food useful let alone food friendly, but a perfect sipper and easily addictive (one of those the more you drink the better it gets reds).  If the American wine companies win their NAFTA suit to shut down the “BC only” wine market, this is the sort of boutique bottle that will bite the dust.

 

The third vintage for Canyonview; not their finest moment but certainly not the worst.

 

Price: Gifted, but it’s a $40 bottle minimum.

 

Market Liquidity: Add it to your Christmas list.

Summer heaven: Salade Nicoise

August 10, 2017

NV Poema Cava Brut

So this is the sort of wine we don’t bother blogging about, which is why the blog goes dead a lot of the time; we’re non-plussed or looting the cellar for gems already posted.  The Poema is in fact the proverbial 86 pointer for the pointsters.  The fizz is moderate, the dry is sere, the depth pretty much nonexistent.  But here’s something the 86 point reviews don’t mention: It’s a perfect backdrop for something else.

 

We are always looking for a neutral fizz to fix champagne cocktails with; nothing too sweet or yeasty.  This fits the bill to a tee; add cassis, Campari, OJ, do something fancier.  I mean it’s criminal to doctor Champagne.  Cava though?  Bring it on.  The Poema, solitary, neat if you will, it’s sort of a letdown.  But for a social occasion as a fancy aperitif, it works a charm.

 

Price: Less than $20 at private wine stores.  Yes, that’s correct, less than $20.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes you need the function, not the form.

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