Archive for ‘Blend’

May 27, 2022

Domaine Grand Nicolet Les Esqueyrons Rasteau, 2016

Screw you Jeb Dunnuck.  Honestly, 94 points with a “thrillingly concentrated vibe on the palate.”  Can I tell you what the vibe is?  It’s fortified wine.  This bottle (lovely, yes, silky, smooth as fabric softener, heady and toxic) is 16.5% alcohol.  This is a silent derringer.  It’s a killer.  A silent effing killer.  And all that weight, all that alcohol, as delicate as it is on the palate it’s tonnage on the brain. It’s like being a spectator at F1 without earplugs.

So glass half full (as full as we recommend), this is about as full bodied as a Grenache Syrah can go without transitioning into vinegar.  It’s rich, billionaire Monopoly fat cat oozing rich.  Blackberries so ripe they stain your fingers as you pull them off the vine rich.  And not as complex as the bottle claimed.

Dunnuck says “don’t miss it” to which we might add, trust us, you won’t miss it, it will come crashing down like hail all around you.

We like us some Rhone but easy does it. Sweet and pretty and just too much sweet and pretty.

Price: At a discount at Marquis $42.

Market Liquidity: You could do shooters with this syrup.

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May 2, 2022

Clos du Soleil Signature, 2013

There are a couple of old posts on the site for the CdS Signature which, once upon a time, many moons ago, we dubbed BC’s best red.  So much has happened in the last decade across the province it would be both wrong and a disservice to stake the same claim today.  And then a little surprise…

We decided to subscribe to the CdS wine club.  The problem with BC wine clubs (as opposed to American, like the NYT or WS Journal) is that you pledge loyalty to a vineyard.  If you like some Burrowing Owl, or some Cedar Creek, but not all, it’s a crap shoot.  Still, we took an oath and called it CdS.  Which, not to be too over the top since there’s no kickback on compliments, but it has been pure joy.  And little presents, so to speak, sneak into the allotment.

This 2013 Signature was absolutely plum: luscious, gobs of fruit, huge mouth feel, delectable with meat, a stupendous sipper.  It opened up a little with air, we noted the first sip and the second pour were markedly different.  A three volt kick on acidity that gives way to ripe orchard fruits and a snippet of cedar shavings. 

So, you know, thanks CdS and, gosh, anything else lying around in the cellar you need to pass off?

[Sad Sidebar: In 2013, this clocked in at 13.8% alcohol; newer vintages approach 15%.  Sigh.]

Price: $48 at the vineyard for the current vintage (about $10 more than when we first became aware of the blend X years ago).  Discounts, it should be noted, for wine club subscribers.

Market Liquidity: It’s a scratch lotto win.

May 2, 2022

La Frenz Vivant, 2017

Heavy and veering towards cloying.  Not La Frenz’ finest hour.  It sips a bit closer to Muscat than you expect, and fights with fish at dinner.  Believe it or not, some plain potato chips paired a dream.  We haven’t blogged about a Vivant since the 2013 vintage where we felt, well, pretty much the same: Just shy of intent.  We wrote, back then, “Lewis Hamilton on the label, 12th on the grid.” [Now, with a failing car, I guess it’s not uncommon to see him in the slipstream. Lapped in Italy by his nemesis this year!]

It’s just such an appealing blend (on the label), touch of sweet, touch of class, lovely hue, decent nose.  And yet somehow it’s not on the mark on the palate.  There are heaps of fine vines littering the La Frenz vineyard, it seems to me this blend could use a tweak or two.

A little buoyant on the alcohol content to boot.  Sells out though, so perennial favorite.  Who are we to say?

Price: $30 on Salt Spring Island, sold out at the vineyard

Market Liquidity: Close but no cigar.

March 25, 2022

Coterie Cabernet Franc & Malbec, 2018

For years we’ve written some variation on how exceptional the wine is in the Cape region and how it rivals many much more established wine regions, and how dire and uninspired the South African selection is at BC Liquor (and bemoaned the discrepancy).  This is more of the same.  Despite, I must point out, being “BC Select” meaning the consultants chose it as a cellar selection.

Where the CF is, where the barnyard funk is, that remained elusive.  The Malbec shone through, but not in a substantive way, just heavy, with a thud.  It drank like a decent red wine, but only.  Oh gosh, that sounds so petty, but in a way this wine is forgettable from the first sip.  Our notes were, and I quote in total, “juicy,” “where’s the CF?,” “bland without redeeming features,” and “not too memorable.”  Not a scribble on aroma, the palate, or afters.

We drink a lot of mediocre wine.  A lot.  I mean we shop twice a week at BC Liquor stores, what do you expect?  But we don’t post about it all.  We try to find redeeming wines and give then a good shake, we try to focus on the positive, take the Tony Robbins Louise Hay Goop route and just find the gorgeousness and determination in every drop.  We appreciate the hard work of producing a decent bottle.  But God is there a sea of middle of the road plonk on the shelves.

The private wine stores regularly stock Graceland Cab Sauv and when you’ve won the lottery there’s Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, South Africa is not a middle of the road producer, but it’s just a shame that in Cape Town you drink Bordeaux style red that knocks your socks off for half the price of stuff like this.

Price: $28 at BC Liquor.

Market Liquidity: What did I read over on Goop?  Be stronger than your excuses.  Dear BC Liquor: I will try.

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

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

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.

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…”