Archive for September, 2018

September 26, 2018

Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, 2016

We had the QQ open along with the Black Hills Nota Bene Chardonnay, which retails at about four dollars more.  As a sipper the BH is gorgeous, butter on the tongue and a more luxe finish.  But the QQ was better with dinner.  Hands down.  (Vegetarian main, cheeses, soup.)  And on that score along, the gorgeous food friendly flexibility of the QQ, we nixed the BH post.

 

Strong, California Chardonnay notes, assertive vanilla, an almost synthetic almond and crisp Bosc pear.  Lush but not louche, there is a tightness to this bottle that doesn’t lead to the full Black Hills expression, a sort of modesty, but from the first sip to the last hugely enjoyable.  And not a bad price point to boot.  A worthy award winner.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Finally a contender in our price bracket.

September 25, 2018

Blue Mountain Chardonnay, 2016

Not the “reserve” just the regular, the off the shelf; nothing bespoke.

 

The last time we posted on the non-reserve was a few years back.  More verbose, just as satisfied.  And you can also find posts on the 2012 and 2011.

 

The BM Chard is like an old friend.  Year after year I get it by the half case, at least (because sensibly and thoughtfully BM waives shipping to YVR at least once each fall).  It doesn’t change that much vintage to vintage, it’s always fresh with a bit of bite, the oak is present but not omnipresent, the flavours linger with a light sweetness on the palate, and the complexity, while not profound, is a slam dunk on the dollar value.  I’m not sure it’s as crisp and Chablis-esque as some reviewers might claim, but good gosh is it easy to drink.  Yummy.

 

 

Price: $20.90 from the vineyard.  Value, value, value.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I mention the value?

September 25, 2018

La Vita Pazza White Blend, 2016

In my notes I wrote accidentally “white bland.”  Cute, but incorrect.

 

Think of a lively, decent house white in a local bistro, something palatable, something not bland like generic Pinot Gris or choking pine resin Sauv Blanc.  Something with a lilt, a dash of sweetness, and accommodation for everything from fatty appies to curries and spicy stew.

 

There is nothing that memorable to the Pazza white.  It’s just a base model blend.  It is in fact the La Frenz base model blend, a more or less balanced Muscat and Riesling, very fruit punch and rich without being cloying.  But really, how enjoyable, easy to drink, and food friendly.  The pointsters may pass it by, but you could do much worse at the price point at half the fun.

 

Price:  Wait for it (are you waiting for it?): $15.56 at the vineyard.  Wowza.  This could sell for $29 at a restaurant and still turn the standard mark-up on profit.  And how cheap and cheerful would that be in our over-taxed Western Hemisphere haven?

 

Market Liquidity: Eat, drink, be merry.

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September 24, 2018

Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo, 2014

Here’s something novel: Okanagan Tempranillo at a decent price point.  (And here’s something oxymoronic, in a way, Tempranillo from BC’s Okanagan…)  You can ante up in excess of $50 for the Black Hills T, but Stag’s Hollow offers an entry level which is, well, very much Tempranillo.

 

On the plus side it’s boisterous, acidic, evocative of the varietal, if a bit aggressive.  On the down side BC is awash in spectacular Spanish reds in the $25-$40 price range and on that score, just a BC to Spain comparison, this is a one off buy, a curiosity, and leaves us sated if not hugely satisfied.  At this price point I’d probably choose the Stag’s Hollow Cab Franc but if you are willing to ante up the dough almost any red in the Renaissance series will please every time.

 

Price: $28 at Save-On Foods

 

Market Liquidity: Been there, done that.

September 20, 2018

La Frenz Syrah, Rockyfeller Vineyard, 2016

We found the same pronounced acid as the Cl 21B Riesling, but palatable and welcome.

 

First sip is grape Kool Aid drink crystals.  It really is that strong.  Then a not too wholesome hit of uber alcoholic cherry and plum with the requisite oak.  Despite the 14.9% we loved the jammy fullness and mouth feel.  Up the nose like Vapo-rub.

 

Young. Young, young.  Cellar indefinitely, although La F recommends five to seven, it seems to have potential for 10.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $26 at the vineyard given the cellaring potential.

 

Market Liquidity: In your face.  But give it time.

September 20, 2018

La Frenz Naramata Bench Riesling Clone 21B, 2017

We tried.  Nope.

 

Acid.  Just too much acid.  At least there’s therapeutic benefit to apple cider vinegar.  This wasn’t food friendly with hard cheese, braised pork or just as a late summer sipper.

 

The vineyard blurb boasts lavender, thyme, peach.  We got nothing.  Citrus and minerality. And enough acid to burn a hole on your palate.

 

I’m certain that in August, under a grape vine draped gazebo overlooking one of the many Okanagan lakes, this crisp (and forgettable) white would please.  But I don’t think it has much utility outside of context and was a bitter disappointment.

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $19 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Riesling rises to higher heights all down the valley…

September 14, 2018

Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva, 2011

Probably the first bottle of Rioja I ever drank was MdC; a Crianza of course.  I would hazard a guess, based on the volume and availability, many North Americans and not too few British would echo the sentiment.  Marques de Caceres is an omnipresent red which usually comes on strong and tannic and decent in a bistro but nothing of note.  I’ve always thought of MdC as the Casio watch brand of wine labels.

 

The Reserva is less available, at least in Western Canada; the BCL has the Gran Reserva.  We’re not going to shell out another $40 to compare, but I’m going to suggest that if you love the oak of Rioja get the GR but if you just have a hankering for fine Tempranillo go the Reserva route, with less time on the cask but still a fine selection off the vine and some love and care in the aging.

 

At seven years this vintage is a blast of candy store licorice, followed by a heady, alcoholic, tannic bomb of cherry, plum, charcoal, moist earth then followed on the finish with traces of oak and vanilla.  Although top heavy it’s ludicrously food friendly (which we drank with a New York Times beef stew braised in Dijon, cognac, wine and beef stock).  Assertive, not terribly acidic, very masculine.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case purchase, reduced by 10%; no such luck at BCL).

 

Market Liquidity: Like running with the bulls in Pamplona, this wine cannot be held back.

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September 14, 2018

Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz, 2012

Entry level LE is expensive.  Even in Western Australia.  Even at the vineyard in Margaret River.  It’s just how it goes.  And it’s not always brilliant (witness our rather uninspired taste of the Art Series Riesling).  But most of the time it is brilliant.  It has a modesty and restraint, across most varietals, something you don’t normally get in Oz (home of Punch in the Face Shiraz); this isn’t punching bag red.

 

The entry level Siblings Shiraz has (we think) everything going for it.  Smooth and sweet(ish) like melba sauce, meaning berry forward, palate delightful and deeply nuanced but without the flair of a truly magnificent red.  You can just imagine staff tasting from the barrel and knowing it wouldn’t cut the mustard for an Art Series label but how eloquent and measured nonetheless.  We drank it against an Ottolenghi recipe of braised leeks (with edamame, buffalo mozzarella, lemon zest and a sprinkling of Gran Padano) and it shone.  As a sipper it became instantly addictive.

 

There is something missing, something you find in those towering Penfolds that cost a fortune but you are, of course, at entry level.  $40 entry level.  But still.  A good fit, off the rack.  Thank you Leeuwin.

 

Warm, pleasant, pleasing and delectable.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case take 10% off).

 

Market Liquidity: Like an earworm there’s a repetitive riff and you’re hooked.