Archive for June, 2018

June 15, 2018

The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira, Charleston Sercial, Special Reserve

An ode to those who make a profound difference.


If you know who Kermit Lynch is you’re most likely not reading this blog, but if you are reading this blog and you know who KL is you are, like me, a disgruntled fan, having no access to how he’s contributed to reshaping wine consumption in North America and almost single-handedly helping wine drinkers rethink what good wine is.  But not in BC.  Sigh.


To a lesser extent, the Rare Wine Company is really “the Kermit Lynch companion” and, founded by Mannie Berk nearly three decades ago, does for wine what the socialized Canadian system is unable, ill-equipped and totally not structured to do: Bring to prominence wines threatened with extinction and offer wine lovers a glimpse beyond the Wine Advocate’s blessing.


Enter the Charleston Sercial.


This Madeira, this dry, evocative and overwhelmingly captivating wine, which I had the good fortune to drink (by the glass!) in New York this spring, was simply beyond sensational.  I saw it on the menu at a pokey wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen and ordered a glass and then, if I’d stroked out, keeled over, and never been revived, it would have been in a state of Nirvana.


Far be it from me to wax on about how brilliant this wine is.  And it is brilliant.  Uber.  Super.  Mega.  Here’s a cut and paste from the merchant’s web site:


This is the driest wine in the series and a wine that has been served throughout meals in America for nearly 300 years. Chef Mario Batali won over 1000+ guests at the 2009 New York Wine Experience by boldly pairing Charleston Sercial with a wild boar dish of Wolfgang Puck’s creation.

Just two weeks later, in the Wall Street Journal, Alice Feiring picked the same Madeira as a wine of choice for chestnut soup, noting that it “is like a salted caramel without its sugar.”

But Mario and Alice were not the first to discover Charleston Sercial’s charms. In 2005, Grant Achatz, whom many believe is America’s most inventive chef, attracted national press for his cutting-edge pairings of Charleston Sercial with dishes at Alinea in Chicago.

Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar 92 rating

Wow.  And Wow.  And Wow.


Price: Online at $50 USD a bottle.


Market Liquidity: If only it was even on the market in Canada.

June 8, 2018

Monte Del Fra Ca’ Del Magro, 2015

Superiore bianco indeed.  Fragrant and floral.  Enticing.  Light and lovely.  The yum in yummy.


A crazy legs blend of Garganega, Treviano Toscano, Tocai, Cortese, and then a smidgen of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Malvasio.  Aging on the lees is what the reviewers write.  Wine drinkers will just enjoy.  Or should just enjoy.


A most desirable departure from the usual suspects.  Here comes summer.


Gobs of gentle fruit, more blossom and aroma than meat, gorgeously balanced, a tight, acid finish with a plummy aftertaste.  Beautiful on the palate, a superb aperitif, and very friendly with light cheese and seafood.  Who can complain?  Buy six for the patio.


Price: An extremely reasonable $23 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: It writes happily, Best Wishes from Napoli.

June 8, 2018

Garzon Reserva Tannat, 2015

A debut for Uruguay on the blog.  Go Uruguay.  And for some strange reason our first post on Tannat, although I do recall drinking it in South America.


Just good drinking.  Start to finish.  If you’re expecting a thwump of tannins you’ll be surprised; there is a California Zin smoothness and something of a fruit bomb to the enterprise.


Exceptional value.  The juicy berry thumps the oak.  There is an air of poor man’s Robert Parker about it but you can’t deny the fact that getting this much wine, this much quality, under $25, in BC, is, well, rare as a blue steak.  This was the sort of wine you used to be able to source for $20.  But here I am aging myself.  By five years.


Price: A little hard to find, but worth it, at $25.


Market Liquidity: To borrow from Foghorn Leghorn, it gets under your skin, like a tattoo.

June 1, 2018

Bartier Brothers Cabernet Franc, 2015

Good gosh do we love this wine.  Simple, straightforward, delectable.  If we’ve plowed through three bottles we’ve emptied six.  I think I’ve lost track.  This is anti-snob material though.  It’s not going to appeal to the masses but it will appeal to anyone with a nose for value and integrity.


It starts off funky.  On the open pour it hits a sour note.  Barnyard. Expect to be disappointed.  Give it air.  It seems pompous but decant.  Or even 15 minutes in the glass.  And then, a blossom, a blossoming.  It’s rustic and thoughtful and mellow and layered and versatile.  There is no pretense.  Your aren’t getting a “cheap” Oculus or Prospectus; rather you’re getting one of the finest table reds BC has to offer.  In our opinion.


Price: Around $24 in various private and public liquor stores (although the vineyard will sell in 3, 6, 9, and I’d recommend a direct order, or pick it up where you can get a discount on six).


Market Liquidity: One of the most reasonably priced and most pleasurable “honest” reds in the BC OK.

June 1, 2018

Road 13 Cabernet Merlot, 2016

A mystery of no proportions.  Smooth and sweet and sickly.  Really, pretty much everything we don’t want in a red wine, a lot of emphasis on approachability and nothing resembling terroir.  Bland to boot.  The Merlot comes on as a perfume counter, the Cabernet Sauvignon as a soupcon of pepper.  Enormously disappointing.


Price: $25 at private wine stores before taxes.


Market Liquidity: You know things are looking down when most of the reviewers include the phrase “easy to drink.”  So is Kool-Aid.