Archive for ‘Blend’

March 20, 2019

Stina Cuvee White, 2016

Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.  So I bought a bottle (my first bottle of Croatian wine, ever,) and cooked up some curry (an eggplant curry by Meera Sodha, the phenomenal Meera Sodha, if you are not cooking her recipes you are not cooking Indian at home), and corked the Stina.  Thank god the curry was a slam dunk.

 

So this is what I can say unequivocally: Vij recently served this with curry at the Vancouver Wine Festival.  Local wine aficionado Anthony Gismondi said it was a big hit.

 

Price: $21 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity:  Has, apparently, some utility.

February 27, 2019

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria, 2016

Maybe the lightest and most delicate red you’ll taste in a year; like raspberry soda.  Ethereal on the fruit front.  Tannins in spades, flowing like Niagara, but fruity and juicy and like a lure: take another sip.

 

Without any heft, it’s a wash against substance.  Try it as an aperitif or with nothing stronger than buffalo mozzarella or Gouda.

 

As a hot weather red, in the shad of vines spread across a pergola, probably divine.  But in the middle of winter a novelty.  Does not compare to their astounding Chardonnays.

 

Price: A rather hefty $38 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

 

Market Liquidity: Novelty makes a nice diversion, but that’s about the extent of it.

February 24, 2019

Liber Farm & Winery, Signature Red, 2015

We did not understand this wine.  We were baffled by the weight, stunned by the attack, left listless by the brashness of the blend, and confused by its identity.  The Similkameen is awash in wonderful wine, you almost could do no wrong.  Or so we thought.  The 40% Merlot is like a chimera, the Cabernet Franc the Penn to the blend’s Teller.  I don’t think we’ve drunk a more unappealing and mixed up BC red in years.  Enough said.

 

Price: $28 as Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I say “enough said” already?

February 1, 2019

Haywire Free Form Red, 2015

So you know how Decanter, in their 100 most interesting wines of 2018 listed oh, I don’t know, one wine from BC?  Yeah, I think one wine.  And it was a white from Haywire (the Free Form).  So kudos to Haywire who seem to have just the right amount of hipster edge with their free form and concrete vats and grey label wonders.  If I run low on Haywire in the everyday cellar I get a bit antsy.  They really do have a magical touch.  Even though in the delicate white categories we actually prefer Sea Star, when it comes to the wonders of OK Sauv Blanc, say, or flat out stunning Pinot Gris, it’s Haywire hands down.

 

Given our bent, and the international hoopla, we tried the Free Form red. And it is everything you might expect from, say, the guys at Sedimentary Wines, the local distributor that has a rich array of natural wines to consider (and argue over) with friends.  In that category, I would probably pick up a COS or a Ch. Le Puy, which in the former are abrasively interesting and in the latter utterly accomplished.  There is no excitement in the Haywire.  It’s just, well, it’s just a free form red that drinks like so many other natural wines.  Yes, it’s a grey label Haywire, but aside from the price tag it’s unlikely to impress.

 

Price: A rather hefty $42.50 at Save-On; $39 at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Too generic for its category.

January 19, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage, 2016

Over the last couple of months we’ve burned through a fair number of 90 or 90+ point Gismondi picks, not always that content with his attribution of points or how he arrived there.  And, in fact, another Mission Hill, their reserve Sauvignon Blanc, well we virtually tossed it into the risotto pot halfway done.  But on this bottle, their Meritage, AG is right on the money.  The only fault I could find was the heavy alcohol.

 

Meritage is that red wine people like after a couple of glasses of something else.  To be successful it has to be immediately pronounced, approachable and somehow meet the expectations of the hardline Cab Sauv types next to the softer Merlot snobs.  This blend checks every box.  It has some funky Cab Franc notes on the nose, the oak is pronounced but not Whac-A-Mole, and the third of Merlot gives it a velvet on the tongue finish with a few complex wet earth notes that linger deliciously.  For BC’s Okanagan, and at the price point and availability, something of a minor miracle.

 

Price: $27 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Bordeaux-ish.

December 21, 2018

La Stella Fortissimo, 2016

We really liked the 2015 but we didn’t love the 2015, and earlier vintages get plus plus plus on this blog.  I don’t think in fact, we have never warmed to the La Stella Fortissimo “full on” the way BC reviewers do, a blend which on paper looks exciting if not brilliant, the way we have warmed to similar blends across the Okanagan.  Critics laud it, particularly Gismondi.  I can sense its “wonderfulness” and the craft behind it and like rooting for the underdog want it to succeed.  And you can pick it up at Save On for just over $30.  So what’s the rub?

 

The 2016 seems to have everything but not enough of anything, a sort of over-thought blend which is more intellect than expertise.

 

Price: Around $30 at Save On depending if you volume buy.

 

Market Liquidity: Pleasant, not surprising.

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 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.

November 1, 2018

Evel Real Companhia Velha, Douro, 2014

Wine Spectator put it in their top 100 in 2016 and, thus, the bottle comes with a neck ribbon.  Somehow it wasn’t 89 points but 90 points and this is where we loathe the pointsters.  Yes, it’s good value, there is as the critics say juicy acidity, it’s warming on the tongue in that way red blends (masterfully crafted) can be, and this (dominated by Touriga Franca) has a lovely although not hugely memorable classic Portuguese style.  I would be hard pressed to remember it in a blind test a week after the fact though.

 

Price: Low 20s at private wine stores.

 

Market Liquidity: Good value but not great 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.

Tags: