Archive for September, 2021

September 29, 2021

Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port, 2007

From the cellar: Here’s a bottle that got shoved to the back in the cellar.  We pulled it out almost by accident.  The Wine Spectator had given it 90 points and recommended it be drunk by 2016.

Based solely on that professional intel we anticipated it to be fully past, an accident waiting to be uncorked.  But the reverse was of course true and the rewards myriad; take that WS.  If Puff was a metaphor for childhood imagination then this port is a metaphor for adult reality.  It sang on the palate, to extend a lazy construction.

Online you will see, ad nauseum, “open and accessible” but in fact it was a little cryptic, and it crept up on you.  It was no open book.

But, as with all things magical, the thing about port is you never drink it at the start.  (Well, except for white port, and perhaps except for the French French who, you know, do Pineau des Charentes before a salad.)  As a rule, you never just drink port, as a person, as a person enjoying a drink; or maybe some people do, some very unusual people.  Sherry?  Yes.  Sherry, yes, yes, yes.  Port? No.  No, no, no.  If you go all out, an aperitif, white and red wine over dinner, then some port, you are toast.  So port is just something hard to reckon with.  Is it delicious?  Absolutely.  Is it necessary?  No, it goes beyond the “know your limit drink within it” mantra when, hic, you go beyond the limit.

I had this issue with a 1963 Rivesaltes.  It was unusual but lovely, fifty years old, and of course we opened it at a 50th, after the champagne, after the wine.  I mean it was the cheese course, we were well stuck in: Pull out the stretcher, wheel me off on a backboard.  And yet, if we’d opened it up at the start, if we’d only opened up the Rivesaltes, it sort of wouldn’t have made sense.  How can you watch the Wimbledon final without witnessing the path to glory?

I’m not sure anyone noticed how special this bottle was, that it was in fact 14 years old, lovingly cared for all this time in the crawl space wine cellar.  But it was a gorgeous sipper all the same.  Golden raisins, stewed prunes, the sweet liquor of canned cherries.  A long, long, lasting finish.  Matte black.

Price: On sale at BC Liquor in March, 2012 for $56, regularly priced $75. 

Market Liquidity: Karston Warholm takes home gold, we drink it in.

September 14, 2021

Chateau Villegly Minervois, 2018 & Mitolo Jester Shiraz, 2018

Thud and plunk.  Epic fail of the pointsters.

Let’s start with the Robert Parker 90 pointer, the Oz red.  Heavy as lead.  What a walloping clunk of everyday red.  We were expecting a fruit forward, peppery Shiraz with a touch of black currant.  But it was less than full bodied, rather one-note, and really not complementary (to a not very spicy and lovely chicken chili). 

Then there’s this average, virtually generic red recommended by James Suckling.  If you poke around online you’ll see it was selected for Air France Business Class, but I guess the contract was cancelled due to the pandemic.  Maybe at 39,000 feet it would have the legs to stand up in the stratosphere.  But back here on earth it’s a tad inconsequential.

Let’s be fair: Both are drinkable, truthfully nothing much wrong with either, but there’s nothing much right either.  And both are hugely forgettable.  There is basic red a plenty in the BC government system, it’s unfortunate that the gold seals on a few bottles put a focus on something just not that much better than those without a gold seal.

There’s a spot-on random online review of the Minervois that finishes “…a lingering hint of pepper adds some interest to the fruit-fueled finish.”  Some interest.  Exactly.  Some.  That’s about as generous as I think you can be.  88 points tops.  Although not a direct comparison, we were sipping a young, robust Syrah from Clos de Soleil the same week, and it just delivered so much satisfaction.

There’s very much a “pop song hit” to both these wines, something of the moment, a catchy tune that fades into the backdrop. 

Price: Minervois around $20 (if not discounted on a bulk buy) at private stores, the Mitolo less than $25 in Ontario, over $30 in BC.

Market Liquidity: What were the lyrics to Blurred Lines?  Oh right, I’ve forgotten already.

Boldly Basic. Where Pointsters Fear to Tread

September 14, 2021

Montevertine Toscana, 2005

From the cellar: Well, from someone else’s cellar.

Let’s just say you knew someone who collected wine but ended up drinking too much wine and that led them to AA and when they went dry they started giving away their cellar.  Let’s just pretend that happened to me.  But, you know, even people who go dry hang on to their past.

Robert Parker said this wine had not much room to improve and recommended it be drunk at least four years ago.  On the one hand, it’s true; the wine is past it’s peak.  But it’s definitely not past.

The red colour, light, cardinal as opposed to carmine; it drank soft on the palate, ethereal.  It had lost all of the boldness it probably boasted five years ago.  Prune and dried apricot and a little loamy earth, not much on the nose but a stupendous, lingering, luscious finish and a glorious 13% to boot.  Honestly, we opened it expecting a bomb, and were thrillingly surprised.

Price: Gifted, but Tuscan heavyweights in Vancouver start at $50.

Market Liquidity: No market left on this puppy, just after market satisfaction.