Archive for ‘British Columbia’

February 25, 2019

La Frenz Chardonnay Reserve, 2016

Is the LF reserve markedly better than the non-reserve?  I guess so.  It looks better in the glass with its deep golden hue.  It has more of the assertive oak and piquancy that is the hallmark of the house.  Do we like it?  We love it.  Year after year.  But we’re never sure how much more we love it than their run of the mill Ch.  I mean for $20 La Frenz turns out a palatable and “drinker friendly” Chardonnay that perks up any seafood dinner.

 

Hard to find, worth finding, worth having in multiples. Too bad about the cork, it seems a little pompous, but a perpetual favorite in our cellar.

 

Price: $25 from the vineyard and worth each cent.

 

Market Liquidity: It always seems a little special, even if predictable.

 

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 3, 2019

Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir, 2014

We felt the 2013 Canyonview set the benchmark for Haywire, a house we more or less adore, but, um, the 2014 feels lost in the rush to make a splash in Decanter and wow us with spectacular whites.  Hey Haywire, don’t forget about this vintage, it’s your calling card.  It’s like the Ford Mustang: Introduced for Americans who wanted “stickshift action and room for four” it quickly became a ghost.

 

The 2014 vintage is meaty, funky, chewy, hefty.  It’s no Swan Lake in the Burgundy Pinot style.  Sure, it has the cache of the Haywire grey label wines and it’s pleasing but it is so definitely not the “ethereal thin juicy” Canyonview of last year.  So not.  We didn’t even get that tangy, eloquent acidity we loved in the 2013.

 

Price: A not unreasonable (for this echelon of red) $36.50 at Brewery Creek.

 

Market Liquidity: Fading from memory as we post.

February 3, 2019

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc, 2016

Yeah, OK.  I mean what were you expecting?  It’s not a discovery Chinon style.  It’s a half decent Okanagan red en route to being, several vintages down the road, er, pretty good.  It’s very berry, fruity, raspberry, red currant and raisin forward, not musky or aromatic.  It lacked depth.  A little flat for us especially as (for Cab Franc) it seemed a little weak with meat and better as a sipper, Pinot Noir style.  Price point is good and for those “edging” into CF territory a decent introduction.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Only a notch above ho-hum.

February 2, 2019

Culmina Merlot, 2014

For those with the money, and the willingness to “join the club” Culmina offers plenty of rewards.  We have gone ga-ga over a few, most notably their Gruner.  But if you just want to pick up a bottle of wine, at your local private shop, you will most likely be making a choice between their Riesling or their ludicrously priced Hypothesis.  So it was nice to find middle ground, price-wise, in the Merlot.

 

Here’s the rub: There is some damn fine Merlot in BC.  Born and bred.  This blog is awash in praise for lesser vintages and lower priced bottles.  And based on that comparison alone this is OK.  Just OK.  It’s a drinkable, competent, appealing Merlot.  I’d drink it over and over.  Except there are other choices, just as good if not better, at a lower price point.

 

As for the wine itself?  Plum yes, violets not so much.

 

Price: $35 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: There’s no disappointment, it just didn’t seem gratifying.

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.

January 18, 2019

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 & La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc, 2017

Anthony Gismondi loved the Mission Hill.  But then, he tends to give a hall pass to Mission Hill and Robert Mondavi.  How he found this pale, plain and rather banal white a 90 pointer is anyone’s guess.  If you really like the grassy, gooseberry, aggressive SB of New Zealand, you will be disappointed and have spent $10 more than a straightforward Brancott.  If you like the tight restraint of a refined Sancerre, you will be baffled by the simplicity.  If you are interested in what’s interesting in the Okanagan, what sort of incredible Sauv Blanc is coming off the vines, you are drinking what is invariably our Tuesday night white: The Haywire Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc (and if you buy it at Save On, you can save yourself $10 all in).

 

But if you like SB just in general, and if you want hints of New Zealand with a slightly more fruit forward and tropical fruit flair, you are far and away much better off down at La Frenz, where they bottle something clean, juicy, crisp and gorgeously palatable, which, unfortunately, sells out in a heartbeat.  Only one of these wines is memorable.

 

Price: Mission Hill and La Frenz both sell in Vancouver in the mid-20s at private wine shops.

 

Market Liquidity: The arch mediocrity of Mission Hill and the consistent virtue of La Frenz never ceases to surprise.

 

 

 

January 17, 2019

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir, 2016

From our (very) mixed case of La Frenz in 2018 I would say the reserve Pinot not as appealing or satisfying as the less expensive Blue Mountain run of the mill (and we are halfway through our BM Pinot, loving every bottle).  We opened the La Frenz up as a sipper for the Globes and I don’t know, we had it lying down for several months and just expected more I guess.  While it doesn’t disappoint there is simply no wow.  The layers of flavour and degrees of nuance we anticipated were all there, but not strikingly so, and while it is jammy there is no mushroom or black olives as LF bills it.  The finish seemed alarmingly terse.

 

Price: You can fine it in private wine stores for around $40, or in the low 30s on release from the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Bronze.  At best.

December 29, 2018

Nichol Pinot Noir, 2016

Too bright and cheery for this holiday season.  Like an inflatable Santa, it’s just not up to snuff.  Cross check it with some half decent Burgundy and this would be an embarrassment.

 

Too cherry to boot.  Acidic.  Tart.  A bit thin on top of all that.

 

Although we have a general fondness for Nichol (we return on a regular basis to the Cab Franc and Syrah and Pinot Gris), I would call this a failure on all fronts.  Not so Gismondi who said something like earthy, dusky, finessed and slapped it with 90 points.  Shurely shome mishtake?  Let’s support the home market by all means but when they bottle an 87 pointer, tops, let’s not give them a pass.

 

Price: Around $30 give or take depending on where you buy it and in what volume.

 

Market Liquidity: An imposter.