Archive for February, 2021

February 11, 2021

Alain Jaume Clos de Sixte Lirac Rouge, 2016 (& Alain Jaume Vacqueyras “Grand Garrigue” 2018)

Good golly is the Lirac a wow.  A big fat bottle of satisfaction.

Before we get into it, oh why not get into it: the Lambert cherry that reminds me of the canned cherries from our yard my mum served on ice cream in the 1970s, gobs of juice and melt in the mouth, the oozing fruitcake, the smooth, luscious, extremely defined rush on the tongue, the floral hints that mesh with wood.  Now, after all that, just take a deep breath and ask yourself: Palatable BC red or brilliant old growth Rhone majesty?  Which will you choose for the dollar figure?

We try and Rah Rah Rah for the Okanagan.  We try and go all in on local support and muster round the setting sun of our provincial flag.  But France like this, this is steep competition.  This is better than anything at Black Hills where you will pay between $42 (basic Syrah) and $65 (the lovely Nota Bene) for a bottle, much better than the really appealing Culmina Cab Franc ($40, which we love to drink, just not to pay for) or their flagship Hypothesis ($47 and up, yikes), almost half the price of the enviable Laughing Stock Portfolio (mid $50s), less than the Sandhill Small Lots One ($40 thereabouts, and good luck in sourcing anyway), less than most any Reserve Pinot Noir BC produces, but e.g., the La Frenz ($40, usually sold out), and of course don’t get me started on grey label Haywire or Le Vieux Pin…

This is not to say BC doesn’t produce great reds.  This is to say you pay the price for great reds made in BC.

Rhone red: Hard to find (BC Liquor stocks a mere six Cotes-du-Rhone Villages a go to in restaurants across France).  Must be on an email list with the wine store to know about arriving allotments.  Must pre-order (ideally the day you get the email) or wait a year and, hopefully, there will be more; half case, or mixed half, gets a 10% discount.  If you bother to make the effort there is reward.  The Jaume ticks a lot of reward boxes.

Price: $33.50 with a discount.  Exceptional value.

Market Liquidity: Perseverance Furthers.

And of course we also picked up the 2018 Vacqueyras “Grand Garrigue” at $35, and while we sipped with abundant pleasure, it wasn’t quite as bowl you over as the less expensive Lirac but, check out the BC wine cost references above, the GG was a score, a slice of wine heaven, and a little bit like living in the UK where the choice and options for Rhone reds ooze like failed rough puff on a Comic Relief Bake Off.

February 3, 2021

Kleinood Tamboerskloof Syrah, 2016

So, you know, we are still drinking off of Christmas gift certificates, and we decided to ante up for a South African Syrah of some note.

The best South African wines seem antique, rooted in a tradition long gone in North America, Australia, South America.  This is strikingly Syrah, brazen, while at the same time unlike most of the Aussie bottles that litter the liquor stores here.  Heartily floral, the perfume pronounced and delicate, velvet tannins, just a soupcon of licorice.  I write licorice but of course one review had “tree bark” and, well, that seems a tad much.  Just a soupcon of tree bark (there, I sound more legit).

Still, despite being something of a stunner, there also seemed to be something a little bit sharp on the spice notes; think of the time you over salted meat or threw in too much nutmeg on winter vegetables and it otherwise ruined a celebratory meal.  Maybe it was the tree bark.

Staff advised us it has long cellaring potential but we wondered what direction it would go.

Price: A steep but probably, for the cellar collector worth it, $47 at Everything Wine.

Market Liquidity: At five years out we’re undecided.

Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible…
February 3, 2021

Carm Reserva Douro (Red Blend), 2016

Intriguing, unusual blends make us wonder how the experts deduce quality.  This offbeat red (a mix of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Rorix and, wait for it, 5% Tinta Francisca.  Say what?) has the mellow, floral aromas of a Merlot crossed with some chewy, Nebbiolo-ish edges, woodsy, earthy.  Not a chance in heaven, on a blind taste, we would have had a clue what the grapes were.

It drank easy, again like Merlot, but had a rough-hewn finish with a bit of punch.  A little research turned up the note it rated in Wine Spectator’s Top 100, 2016, although we had no idea on purchase.  Was it rated based on comparables or novelty?  That’s key, don’t you think?  Was there six Touriga/Tinta blends, back to back, and this was best?  Or did someone just say “hey, this is a tasty bottle”? We don’t understand wine: That’s why we blog about it.

As for a buy, again, I’m going to say no.  The price point was too dear.  But the bottle went down easy, very easy.

Price: $42, if you must, at Everything Wine; a few bucks less at BC Liquor, and recently on sale for an extremely reasonable “just over $30” but good luck in finding any: Thank you BC Liquor.

Market Liquidity: Novel but not momentous.

February 3, 2021

Champagne Tribaut Brut

We never got to a celebratory bottle of champers at New Year’s.  My recollection is I was asleep before midnight!  The joys of being old.

On the flip side we had champagne in January.  What did Ricky Gervais say in 2012 to the NYT journalist who contacted him at home on a weekday and saw him sipping champagne?  “Happy 6 o’clock-mas.”  (He’s since repeated that a few times, including Twitter, and sometimes modified with the f-bomb…)

Well.  93 points.  Gosh, Wine Spectator.  There was nothing much 90 points in this let alone 93.

The fizz faded; it was flaccid and unexciting on the pour and went downhill from there.  The toastiness and texture of the wine was uninspired.  Sure, on the one hand it was spectacular sparkling wine, and on the other it was forgettable champers.  I know it’s a dedicated family run operation, and I want to jump up and down for their sincerity and dedication, but this bottle lacked the liveliness and pep of its competitors.

Meanwhile, in January, BC Liquor put half bottles of Piper-Heidsieck on sale for $7 off.  That made two half bottles cheaper than a full bottle.  Of course it was virtually out of stock from the get go, I found a few in West Van, bin ends, but basically the Lower Mainland was out of luck.  How very BC Liquor.  As if none of the nearly three million people in and around Vancouver matter, market wise.  Anyway, long way to say how satisfying the PH is, nutty, toasty, an invigorating acidity.  From the spritz in a flute to the splash on your palate, Piper has an undeniable liveliness.  It’s not the best you can by, not by a long shot, but it oozes “Champagne!” if you know what I mean.  I wish we could have said the same of the Tribaut.

Price: The label said $50 all in but Champagne in BC is never $50 all in, even at $14 off for two splits.

Market Liquidity: Fleeting, like a winter sunset.