Archive for November, 2018

November 21, 2018

Calmel & Joseph Blanquette de Limoux

Gismondi quite liked this and “pointsed” it 90.  Yeah, OK, whatever; he’s gotta keep up with his colleagues who found it similarly “over the 89 point hump.”  We found it, well, a little austere, lacking in depth, mineral forward, cucumber hits the palate in an unusual not invigorating way, mediocre effervescence.  Glass half full it makes a wonderful French 75 but a little on the ho hum side as a sipper.  From our perspective, it doesn’t hold a candle to the (four dollars cheaper) Bernard-Massard Brut which we love and which has been our go-to sparkler for over a year.

 

We were attracted to it for the Mauzac, unusual to say the least, but not entranced or seduced.  Another odd thing is that the weekend of AG’s review the Calmel J was in six BC Liquor stores.  Total.  Pretty slim pickings in advance of the holiday season.

 

Price: A more or less reasonable $29 before taxes at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Brunch yes, birthday no.

November 20, 2018

Sartirano Figli Cantine e Vigneti Piemonte, 2015

This is a smooth, nearly tannin free red, with juicy tree fruit accents and a delectable smoky finish.  Oak but not too much.  Some Nebbiolo grabs you by the throat and never lets go.  This is more gentle persuasion.  We especially liked the low-ish alcohol content.  It sipped brilliantly, evocative as it opened, but was a bit of a shrinking violet with red meat.

 

Here’s the thing: Browse a bit online and you will find plenty of dissatisfaction, adjectives like sour, disappointment, undrinkable.  A mere two stars over at the Sunday Times wine club.  Yet nearly 10 stars in Denmark.  Then only three stars at an Italian blog.  So it goes.  Perhaps we scored with the 15?

 

Price: Gifted, but in the 30 range at private wine stores. With 60% consumed in Europe, you’re unlikely to find it handily on the West Coast.

 

Market Liquidity: Likeable but not lovable.

November 17, 2018

Vino Cobos Felino Malbec, 2016

The worst Malbec is somewhere between chalk and unripe raspberry.  The best is like cherries jubilee, creamy and rich and assertive in its juiciness.  This is neither.

 

A slight but persistent bitterness overrides any enjoyment.  The predominant fruitiness is cough syrup.  The spicy white pepper finish is plainly unpleasant.

 

Moderately food friendly, forgettable as a sipper, but apparently a pointster star.  Go figure.

 

Price: A most appealing $21 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes, once is always enough.

November 16, 2018

Domaine de la Baume Elite D’or Chardonnay, 2015

Just wrong.  It smells like Australian Chardonnay from the cask.  It drinks like inexpensive over-oaked California Chardonnay.  And then it disappears on the palate.  The heft of the bottle weight, the adornment of points from the WA, and the golden hue of the wine, lean towards something substantial, but like candy floss, while it looks and feels like one thing, on the palate it’s another.  We’ve never experienced a Chardonnay with so little finish.  It’s like a vanishing act.

 

Price: I can see paying $16 all in, as you can in Ontario, but to charge nearly $30 at Everything Wine in BC before taxes seems a criminal act.

 

Market Liquidity: I bought a couple of extra based on reviews (and, yes, the stupid number 90 on the neck).  Guess I’ll be sharing with those I don’t care about sharing with.

 

November 15, 2018

Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidum, 2014

Nothing to blog about but lovely to drink.  Nothing complex but appealing on the palate.  Berry and spice and a wet earthy finish, while never overpowering.  It does not dominate.  It has that French sitting on the fence thing about it.  A weird hybrid between exceptional and inconsequential.  Personally, I could drink this regularly.  With friends, at dinner, as a sipper.  But then again, I will probably never drink this again, at least not in BC; not at the price.  Not at the astonishingly ridiculous price.  My god.

 

Price: 40 frigging dollars a bottle before onerous taxes.  Over on the Reverse Wine Snob blog they pegged it at half that in US so there should be a willing market.  But Rhone reds on our shelves have got to shine a little higher at the $40 plus mark.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a best friend who goes snob.

November 6, 2018

Graceland Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

Something else altogether.  Wrapped up in tissue as if swaddled and then labelled like a candle from a religious supply store, the wine inside is anything but deceptive; it’s the essence of a decent glass of red.

 

My mother used to take blackberries from a bush along the fence in the lane, when I was a kid, macerate them, and squeeze out the sweetest, darkest, densest cordial imaginable.  To appreciate it, you had to drink it carefully and with hesitation, no more than a tablespoon at a time.  Some years, it was so rich, we mixed it with soda.  This wine, which just begs to be sipped, very, very slowly, is an eloquent turn on cordial.  Creepily addictive and wickedly good but pointless in large doses.

 

We’ve tasted the Graceland in previous vintages and had been neither here nor there, but this smoky, intense and luscious red is a keeper.  It oozes warmth and comfort and has none of the brass band of a Napa CS.

 

Price: $31.50 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: It will float you across the river Styx.

November 5, 2018

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir, 2016

We drink at least a case of Blue Mountain every year.  It’s very good value, if not valuable, and generally a crowd pleaser, gentle reds and lively whites.  The 2013 Pinot, well that sort of put us off their PN, and we reduced our intake the last few years, but the 2016, the entry level base market 2016, is just plain tasty; comfortably round, soft, berry flavour accented by a hint of sharp pepper and some cedar vanilla.  Too bad BM can’t seem to shake the cork for screw tops.  But kudos for free delivery to Vancouver.

 

Is it a $30 wine?  Well it sells out almost overnight, whether that’s fans or scalpers is anyone’s guess.  I’d never shell out $60 in a restaurant, but at home it’s a welcome addition to any basic cellar.

 

Price: $30 from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: If not for the cork, a corker.

November 4, 2018

Enebral Tinta de Toro, 2015

James Suckling described this as tasting of ivy and forest floor.  Say what?  There is pronounced vanilla, a smoothness that is as deceptive as black ice, giant tannins and gobs of plummy, jammy fruit.  We didn’t get the tightness Robert Parker alluded to but we do agree a dozen in the cellar will pay huge dividends.  At the price it’s a slam dunk and exceptional in more ways than it’s worth describing.  Buy now, buy lots; the holidays will be upon is in weeks.

 

Price: An astonishing $23 at Everything Wine

 

Market Liquidity: A case for the wedding.  Or just to drink on Tuesday nights.

November 3, 2018

Tinto Negro Limestone Block Malbec, 2015

The entry level TN Malbec will set you back $15.  It’s good patio value.  The Limestone Block will set you back double.  But it’s not twice as good.

 

With decanting and a little air this will soften up and beckon.  Previous vintages have scored highly with James Suckling and Robert Parker.  They like the balance, fruit and herbal notes.  We found it muted.  All those things they like are present, you just have to close your eyes and think hard.  It’s not an open book.

 

Price: $30 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Fleeting.  Think of a trumpet mute; it has an effect, but nothing worth a whole symphony.

November 2, 2018

Sea Star Encore, 2015

All over the blog we rave about Sea Star.  Growing the right grapes for the climate, small batches, unfiltered wines, biodiversity, you name it.  Bring on the Salish Sea.

 

The red here is a primarily Okanagan blend with some local grapes thrown in for good measure.  The first glass I had of Encore was a few years back and I wasn’t wowed.  Top heavy, it was a Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and Merlot clash; we ignored their reds and concentrated on their gorgeous library of whites.  I think the Encore (which they call a Meritage) has gone from 15 to 16 to 18 months in oak.  But this vintage they seem to have it closer to right than ever.  Online they call it a Merlot Cab Franc blend with (I think) just the right amount of Merlot velvet contrasted with just the right amount of Cab Franc funk.  On the bottle they note some Marechal Foch, from Pender Island, thrown into the mix.

Curious, and a great sipper, it slipped with a hearty meal of (mostly) cheeses, whereas a basic Wente Cab Sauv was a home run.  I could get to drinking this regularly, but not at the price point.

 

Price: Around $32 at private wine shops, $29 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: A blend moving in the right direction, but not at its destination.