Archive for ‘British Columbia’

January 5, 2018

Clos du Soleil Celestiale, 2014

It’s been two years since we had a bottle of the Celestiale.  This 2014 was a real surprise.  In general, the Clos de Soleil wines are excellent, if a little pricey, but the Celestiale always seemed a non event.  This pick, typical of a domestic wine that would sell for under $20 in the US but in BC under $30, has all the hallmarks of a workhorse red; juicy and fruity with just a soupcon of acidity and with some air a soft, eloquent finish.  Harsher woodsy tones segue with the fruit.  The many vines blend works, and it works well, if not quite as well as their more expensive bottles.  For BC red, very good value.

 

Price: $27 before taxes at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Celestiale is to the Signature what AX is to Giorgio Armani.

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October 25, 2017

La Stella Fortissimo, 2015

This is a California red in a BC bottle.  The pros differ, they call it a super Tuscan wannabe, but I swear if you’ve drunk one top heavy Napa red you’ve drunk ten Fortissimos.  Is it good?  Assertively good.  If you don’t know wine (like we don’t know wine, if you just love wine, like we love wine) I would guess that there’s more Cab Franc and Cab Sauv then La Stella claims.  Guess.  I’m not second guessing.  The reviewers write about the Merlot and the Sangiovese but the smoothness of the former and the tannins of the latter seemed to speak more of the hearty, heavy, masculine characteristics of the two Cabs.  A great meat wine.  A great gift wine.  A great lie down wine.  A great BC red.  No holiday sipper though.

 

Price: A reasonable and very worth it $30 from the vineyard before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Not our knight in shining armour, but armour clad nonetheless.

October 15, 2017

Quinta Ferreira Algaria, 2010

From the cellar: Almost two years after we went gaga over this kitchen sink blend, we opened the last bottle from the cellar.  First, our review from 2016 still stands.  Second, rest in peace White Rock Swirl.  Third, see the first two.

 

Price: $30 back in January 2016.

 

Market Liquidity: A powerhouse of “delectability.”

October 10, 2017

Clos du Soleil Syrah, 2014

Assertive and heartwarming all at once.  I would characterize this as rough around the edges and needing some lie time (but with a screw top the question of how or what will improve is a hot topic particularly when you tour the Okanagan and engage with the vintners).  No reviewer would ever write it, but while this is a great red it’s not “fun”; it’s practical and well constructed and lovely to drink but lacking pizazz and charisma.

 

Price: A reasonable and (for BC wines) thrifty $30 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Close, like a wheelchair parking space, but also like a gimme in golf.

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September 21, 2017

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette, 2015

I simply don’t have words to express how enjoyable this wine is.  And I don’t mean all the facets of the blend or the artistry which you can read about far and wide (it has been justly and muchly praised and frankly reading about LVP can be tiresome in the most academic of ways) but just the sheer enjoyment of it, the lushness and satisfaction, the goodness of it without being too wow or overpowering or having to aspire to some branding tag like “super Tuscan” or whatever, just ridiculously quaffable and deeply interesting and although pricey not nearly as dear as many BC “signature” reds.

 

LVP calls this wine feminine but it didn’t remind me of, say, St. Amour or Fleurie, which I think of as feminine, but, of course, it is on the “walk into a florist” side of things. Sip and see the light.

 

Price: $30 at a private Vancouver wine shop before taxes ( in July) but now no longer easily found.

 

Market Liquidity: If you can find it find it.

September 19, 2017

Ch. Peyguerol Costieres de Nimes Rosé & Haywire Secrest Mountain Gamay Noir Rosé, 2016

We finished off the summer on the most spectacular of Labour Day weekends with some half decent plonk, although neither of these rosés left a huge impression.

The C d Nimes was my preference of the two, even when it veered to being peachy to the point of punchy.  Aromatic and fruity but not cloying.  The Haywire is more of a lab experiment gone awry: it’s sharp, it’s tart, it’s like a pop rock without the pop.  The concrete vats and native yeast have left it sere and flat and confrontational, like running into a thug in a dark alley by accident.  I think it will please the wine aficionados in its uniqueness (in terms of the BC rosé production) while deeply offending the average joe looking for a decent rosé.  The OK Crush Pad description (which was part of the rationale for the purchase) reads:

A delicate salmon hue, lifted berry fruit, with a hint of thyme and spice. Delicate floral and citrus notes dance on the palate. Texturally lush and glossy, with a fresh and lively finish.

Wow.  That’s some bone of contention there.  Where’s the ad standards council when you need it?

 

Price: $25 each give or take.

 

Market Liquidity: Neither was pricey, neither was impressive.

 

August 23, 2017

Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Like a Jamaican steel drum band; it really is that assertive. Without any of the dry hay or dewy green of New Zealand classics, and zero oak.  A really appealing floral nose belies a spicy, acidic and invigorating flourish on the palate.  Tangy, zesty, piquant finish.

 

Although there’s no oak, the malolactic fermentation gives it a funky charge that is either greatly appealing (us) or not what you’re expecting (probably a lot of New Zealand SB purists).  Gismondi said this should “scare the Kiwis” and gave it a 90 point nod but I think for $10 less the masses will likely stick with Brancott, and be happy with that decision.

 

Price: The 2015 is out, $25 at the vineyard, but you can source the enormously drinkable last year’s vintage for $27.75, before taxes, at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: Oak shmoak.

August 19, 2017

Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Reserve, 2013

Heavy and hefty and archetypally Californian if indeed a good BC Chardonnay is supposed to mimic those further south.  A bit too crash and burn for us, with as much subtlety as a misspelled tweet from the current POTUS.  Oak and apple, vanilla and crab-apple, and oak.  Did I mention the oak?

 

On the one hand it is spectacularly good, if you’re looking for one specific type of Chardonnay, and it speaks to how very far BC mainstream varietals have come.  On the other hand, there are no surprises or even nuances of terroir that speak of BC the way, e.g., the Culmina GV does.  Probably very pleasing to most of the people most of the time.

 

Price: This is apparently a winery direct bottle but we picked it up on Salt Spring island for $33, $4 over the winery price, before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: Short on subtlety but lots of splash.

August 18, 2017

Terra Vista Figaro, 2012

We’ve never bought the Figaro based solely on the label, which to date has been a bit too playful in a Roberto Benigni jumping up and down at the Oscars way.  The 2015 is on the shelves (with a more sober, less antic label design than the one pictured here) and good reviews from Gismondi.  But in our never-ending pursuit of something interesting we stumbled across the 2012, a bit dusty, on a back shelf in a small indie.  Would it still hold up?

 

The 2012 was a combination Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne; the 2015 nixes the Marsanne.  It was still beyond palatable with delightful tropical notes and a steely patch reminiscent of Semillon.  It held up superbly with white meats and even cut through the acid of tomatoes.  It came alive with a bit of air and warmth, oozing peach and nectarine and apricot.  Something of a find, I must say, and worth exploring the current vintage.

 

Price: $23 in a private wine store.

 

Market Liquidity: Not that it matters, the 2012 is long gone, but testament to the old adage that perseverance furthers.

August 15, 2017

Sea Star Ortega, 2016

Yesterday we blogged about an overpriced red.  Today we’re posting about a reasonably priced white.  Ah Sea Star.  Ooh la la.  We have blogged pretty much the entire vineyard and gone ga ga over most of the bottles but now it’s time to part: Sea Star has become too popular.  You simply can’t get a hold of it.  Unless you’re in a restaurant.

 

Luckily, at one of the lesser known cafes in the province, on Saturna Island, chef Hubertus Surm serves a beautiful dinner Saturday nights where he stocks a La Frenz red and a Sea Star white; it’s one or the other or go dry.  That pretty much sums up, in a vinous sense, the southern Gulf Islands in a sentence, LF and SS.

 

A Siegerrebe Muller-Thurgau blend, the Ortega is definitely the most perfumed and aromatic of Sea Star’s table whites.  There are potent honeyed notes with distinct herbal tangents, like oregano in bloom and a whiff of lavender.  The mouth is gorgeously full and overall the wine is superbly food friendly.  Schreiner (and a few others online) write of the grapefruit, but I found the acidity smooth and the citrus gentler, like ugli fruit or tangelo.  There is a linear infusion of tropical flavours, pineapple guava punch, and a long finish.  As we say over and over again about Sea Star, they are producing the right white wines for the climate and soil and they are doing a helluva job.

 

Price: $20 at the vineyard, $30 at the Saturna café (kudos to the SC for a less than 100% markup).

 

Market Liquidity: What joy to drink a drinkable local wine at a decent price.  Hallelujah.

Chef Hubertus Surm turns out a beautiful summer salad at the Saturna Cafe