Archive for ‘Blend’

January 15, 2021

Le Vieux Donjon, 2017, Painted Rock Red Icon, 2017

With Christmas gift certificates in hand we decided to drink like the other half (or at least the one-percenters) for, you know, as long as the gift certificates held out.

They held out for two bottles. 

Thank you Government of BC.

For starters we drank what Decanter called the Canadian red wine of the year and adorned it 95 points; Gismondi, 93, similarly lauded it, among the other usual suspects.  If you want to read about the hoopla surf over to the PR site here.

Here’s our review (or lack thereof): Is spending double on a bottle of wine a better experience, by half, than drinking two (decent) bottles at half the price?  If you are one of the seven people who regularly surf to this site (our stats show us firmly in the single digits, but loyally so, and I would like to thank the steady seven), then you know what I’m going to say next: No.  Wine reviewing is something of a racket.  To borrow from Fran Lebowitz, they show a Picasso in an auction house to silence, sell it for 160 million, the gavel comes down and they applaud, they applaud the price.  Does anyone care about the art?

For the unaware, it’s episode two of the Netflix series Pretend it’s a City.

The Painted Rock is widely available, in BC Liquor, private stores, the vineyard.  At the price point in the middle of a global pandemic what can you expect?

For even more coin you can choose from the organically farmed and never disappointing Rhone.  Here’s the funny thing about the Donjon: It’s the right year.  Gismondi wrote recently about his quirk towards the vintage, not just the wine.  This might be the most engaging aspect of drinking wine, long term, how much a single vineyard can vary year to year and the nuance and delectability of monitoring the change.  So I would say we are more or less on the same page as AG.  Here’s the catch, and I wonder how frustrating it is for AG: In BC, the government liquor stores are usually a year behind.  A top review comes out at the Advocate or Spectator and next you know that vintage sells out.  BC Liquor skips a year.  It may be the single most frustrating aspect of buying wine in BC.  Let’s say the 2017 gets a top review, 2016 can be found in stores, we don’t get 2017 and go straight to 2018.  But, as I say, the Donjon is the right year—or, to put it more simply, the 2017 is the bottle Jeb Dunnick gave 95 points to.

Both wines are good to glorious.  Both wines are hugely satisfying (in our minds, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape slightly ahead).  Both wines are outside our budget.

Price: The Painted Rock with tax comes in around $60 while the Donjon with tax just under $70 but since both were covered (mostly) as a gift, so it’s mostly a gratis posh nosh.

Market Liquidity: Silver Charm over Captain Bodgit, by a head. (Translation: Two thoroughbreds.)

November 5, 2020

Mas de Boislauzon, Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2016

15.6 percent alcohol.  I repeat, 15.6%.  That is, quite frankly, an assault.  I lay harassment charges.

Decanter called this “intensely concentrated” and impressive for a Villages.  So, yes, it is that and then some.  It is deeply, deeply concentrated.  It looks twice as dark as Ribena and has the weight of, I don’t know, somewhere between platinum and plutonium.  Organic, so there’s that.

Is it good?  Deliriously good.  Sip after sip after sip.  But so is a decent Macallan, if it’s a matter of sipping, of nursing.  Not particularly food friendly; a gulp or two and you’ll need a lie down.  Smokers beware: Light a match and it could combust.

While I’m being lighthearted I’m also half serious: There has to be a civilized ceiling to alcohol content.  There’s a standard for everything else in France…

Price: $33 at Marquis but for a half case lot with a discount an extremely reasonable $29.

Market Liquidity: “…happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now…”

October 20, 2020

Culmina Hypothesis, 2012

From the cellar: A perpetual critic’s pick, Gismondi basically gives it a pass, year after year.  It is a typical Okanagan potent potable, with heft and then some.  And although I’ve only drunk less than five bottles, since discovering Culmina, it’s never left a huge impression.

It certainly lacks the wow factor of, say, Ridge or Caymus.  It doesn’t have the huge appeal you’d expect at the price point and being a BC flagship red blend, being the Culmina flagship red blend.  But it’s good.  $50 good?  You tell me.

How we came across this 2012 I don’t know; perhaps a gift, maybe a purchase at the vineyard.  We do have another lying down, part of their mixed six pack reds they offered this summer.  But the 2012, at eight years, did not leave anyone at table champing at the bit for more.  Which is a shame, this should be a celebratory bottle.

Price: Lost our record, but close to $50 I would imagine.

Market Liquidity: Not every Mercedes is a gullwing 300 SL; in other words, buyer beware the lure of luxury.

October 20, 2020

Sea Star Ortega, 2019

A whack of stone fruit, notably apple and pear, with an apple cider acidity that rounds out the syrupy weight.  Delightfully light and weighty all at once; heaps more likable than the Salish Sea, which we dissed a few weeks back…

Sea Star generally grows the right grapes in the right region and makes wines that are complementary to so much west coast cuisine, most commonly low in alcohol, and inherently social.  But they can miss, as well.  For a light lunch, an afternoon aperitif, or just to pair with a nibble of cheese, the Ortega fits the bill.

Price: $24.27 at the Saturna General Store.

Market Liquidity: Easy on the palate and the pocketbook.

September 18, 2020

Domaine de Ferrand Cotes-de-Rhone “Cuvee Antique”, 2018

The other night we were supporting our local bistro, Les Faux, when I noticed on the chalkboard they were featuring the Ferrand Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  At $130 a bottle.  We opted for a more basic Cotes-du-Rhone.  And, when the Ferrand release came into Marquis earlier this year, we did the same.

The “antique” is about as base model as you can get from Ferrand, but even a Toyota Corolla goes forwards and backwards and stops when you brake.  It ain’t no Lexus but it absolutely has enormous utility.  If there is a fault, it’s much too easy to drink in 2020.  Gentler woodsy/dusty notes than some Rhone blends, restrained fruit, a hot lick of pepper, and a lovely cherry on the finish.  Concrete not filtered but, you know, refined.  Very Grenache Forward.

Jeb Dunnuck said it has loads of charm.  Yes.  Loads of charm.  And at $15 less than equivalent blends in BC’s Okanagan (from vines half a century younger) it has thrift to boot.  Go Cotes-du-Rhone.

Price: $34 before a modest discount for a half case at Marquis.

Market Liquidity: Like a scene stealing cameo in a film littered with stars.

September 18, 2020

Sea Star Salish Sea, 2019

We have waxed poetic on Sea Star.  Oh my goodness have we said some fine things about Sea Star.  But alas we are parting ways on this year’s Salish Sea.

Where to begin?  Sweet but not pleasant.  Light, but watery (look at the wine glass, it could be flat Perrier).  Thin without redemption.  Mediocre with food and banal as a sipper.  I don’t know if there’s too much tropical with not enough weight, so you get that phoniness of canned fruit cocktail, or whether it was just a bad year.

It pains me to write this.  Seriously.

Check out the archive, it was total infatuation: The Siegerrebe, 2014, hats off.  The Stella Maris 2015, we were pragmatic but adoring.  The Ortega, 2016, absolutely loved it.  The Pinot Gris 2016; went ga ga. Ga ga. We drooled. So it was crushing to end up with half a case of duds.

Plus, you know, Sea Star is impossible to find.  We pick up a case every year on the Southern Gulf Islands, but outside the SGI good luck.  Oh well, the remainder will make a fine risotto.

Price: $24.27 at Saturna General Store. A very reasonable price I should add

Market Liquidity: Double bogey.

September 18, 2020

Culmina Saignée, 2019

Part of the summer whites package Culmina was passing off this year (to, no doubt, their very loyal fan base).  Hmmm.

OK, let’s start here: In over a decade of blogging about wine we have less than a dozen posts on rosé.  Why?  It’s an upsell wine.  It’s never as good as white (because when it’s chilled it loses flavour whereas, say, Champagne comes alive) and it’s never as good as red (because as it warms, and gains flavour, it’s both not as good as red and without the refreshing zest of white).  It’s a lose lose blend.  But you can’t stop seeing it on the shelves, shoved down our throats.

Well you know what?  If you must drink rosé, drink this.  It has enough heft to be interesting mixed with enough fruit, predominantly raspberry, to be heads and tails above a lot of other Okanagan offerings. I will say this: In summer, on the deck, it was very pleasant.

Still, mixed feelings. And when we moved on to red at dinner I was much more content.

Price: $24 direct from vineyard.

Market Liquidity: We give it our rosé seal of approval (which is of course not a real thing).

NB: Kudos to the photog who captured the underside of a table lamp.

August 13, 2020

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust, 2017

You can’t go wrong with this local, under-$30 red blend (just don’t get us started on the insufferable LFNG labels…).  The pour is immediately appealing.  Robust in the heavy alcoholic sense, and whereas in Bordeaux a blend might top out between 12.5 and 13%, this is a hefty 14.4.  But, hey, it’s enormously likeable, food friendly and a stunning sipper.

Although mostly Merlot, it drinks like a Cab Sauv Cab Franc blend as much as anything.  Very fruity, overripe blackberries, easy on the oak, and a deep, luscious finish that’s like an espresso crema.

And all this for $30.  Huzzah.

Price: $29 at indie liquor stores.

Market Liquidity: Pink gets the Party Started; this blend will take it home.

July 22, 2020

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

Saint-Damien Plan de Dieu Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, 2018

It might be a CDR villages, but it’s old vines CDR villages, and it shows.  Big time.

 

A spectacular “common” red.  To find a wine in BC around $30 that has this much finesse without dripping in oak or insipidly acidic, is a treat.  Amen to Côtes-du-Rhône.  Grenache and Mourvèdre get married, the former is dominant, but a lovely partnership all round.  Right up there at the Wine Advocate and rightly so.

 

We couldn’t really discern the plum, but the black cherry and big swath of strawberry flood the palate leading to a restrained finish.  True, it’s not Gigondas.  But you know what else?  We’re not royalty, and this drinks better than half the BC Okanagan which sells at double the price.

 

Usually, with a wine like this, Gismondi writes “back up the truck.”  I would echo that sentiment.  That said, on the flip side it is an oppressive 14.5%, something that tends to curry favour over at the WA.  And, despite the recommendation to cellar, we weren’t sure how much further it would go: It drinks today smooth, velvety and delectable.

 

Price: $30 before tax at Marquis, although there was a discount on pre-orders (thank you Marquis).

 

Market Liquidity: U-Haul rents a van for the price of less than two bottles.  Do the math.

June 26, 2020

Cune Cava Brut, NV

Cune Cava Brut

Thank you Marquis: A dry, palatable, superb summer sparkler, much more enticing than umpteen local rose offerings and some plain un-outstanding local fizz.  A most perfect mixing faux-champers, a dash of Campari or put a Spanish twist on an Aperol spritz.  Not too effervescent with some heady, yeasty, earthiness and a touch of shale.  Decent and then some.

 

Price: $27.75 at Marquis Cellars.

 

Market Liquidity: It may be a blow-up toddler’s pool next to the big guns, but it has all the summer fun you want to kick off the evening.